Changes are coming, and while we were all focusing on President Elect Trump, the Obama administration has decided to go out with a bang. Read the following statement below:
PRESIDENT OBAMA'S STATEMENT ON CUBAN IMMIGRATION
Today, the United States is taking important steps forward to normalize relations with Cuba and to bring greater consistency to our immigration policy.
The Department of Homeland Security is ending the so-called ‘wet-foot/dry foot' policy, which was put in place more than twenty years ago and was designed for a different era.
Effective immediately, Cuban nationals who attempt to enter the United States illegally and do not qualify for humanitarian relief will be subject to removal, consistent with US law and enforcement priorities.
By taking this step, we are treating Cuban migrants the same way we treat migrants from other countries. The Cuban government has agreed to accept the return of Cuban nationals who have been ordered removed, just as it has been accepting the return of migrants interdicted at sea.
Today, the Department of Homeland Security is also ending the Cuban Medical Professional Parole Program.
The United States and Cuba are working together to combat diseases that endanger the health and lives of our people. By providing preferential treatment to Cuban medical personnel, the medical parole program contradicts those efforts, and risks harming the Cuban people.
Cuban medical personnel will now be eligible to apply for asylum at U.S. embassies and consulates around the world, consistent with the procedures for all foreign nationals.
The United States, a land of immigrants, has been enriched by the contributions of Cuban-Americans for more than a century.
Since I took office, we have put the Cuban-American community at the center of our policies. With this change we will continue to welcome Cubans as we welcome immigrants from other nations, consistent with our laws.
During my Administration, we worked to improve the lives of the Cuban people – inside of Cuba – by providing them with greater access to resources, information and connectivity to the wider world.
Sustaining that approach is the best way to ensure that Cubans can enjoy prosperity, pursue reforms, and determine their own destiny.
As I said in Havana, the future of Cuba should be in the hands of the Cuban people.
So what does this mean?
Cubans “who attempt to enter the United States illegally and do not qualify for humanitarian relief will be subject to removal, consistent with US law and enforcement priorities,” the White House said in a statement. Meaning, you must enter lawfully and those who don't will face the same consequences as any other immigrants from other nations.
What those opposed have to say
Many opposed to this decision, fear that conditions for Cuban nationals still living in Cuba will only worsen.
“Today's announcement will only serve to tighten the noose the Castro regime continues to have around the neck of its own people,” Senator Robert Menendez, Democrat of New Jersey, said in a statement. He said Congress had not been consulted on the move, and he added, “The Obama administration seeks to pursue engagement with the Castro regime at the cost of ignoring the present state of torture and oppression, and its systematic curtailment of freedom.”
What those in support have to say
Benjamin J. Rhodes, the deputy national security adviser, who led clandestine negotiations that produced the 2014 opening, said most Cubans who came to the United States in the past “absolutely had to leave” Cuba “for political purposes.” Now, he said, the flow is largely of people seeking greater economic opportunity. Ending the policy, he added, is a reflection of Mr. Obama's view that, ultimately, the rise of a new generation of Cubans pressing for change in their own country is vital to bringing about change there.
So while perhaps optimistic about the outcome for Cuba in the future, the United States sees this as a necessary requirement for any real change to happen in Cuba. This policy change will serve to propel Cuba into the 21st century by enticing nationals to seek legislation changes on Cuban soil.
What should Cuban Immigrants do?
If you currently have an order of removal or deportation or exclusion please contact Jacqueline Delgado to discuss your options. Also, if you are US citizens or legal permanent residents you can petition for certain family members living abroad. Please contact Delgado Law Group, LLC for more information.
Other countries policies for Cubans
Since the United States has now become a “no go” destination for those seeking asylum from Cuba, take a look below at other neighboring countries policies on Cuban immigrants.
· Ecuador was once a magnet for Cuban migrants because the South American country didn't require entry visas. That practice ended last year, and many Cubans are leaving with the threat of deportation looming.
· Nicaragua in Central America closed its border to Cubans heading north last year, leaving thousands stranded to the south in Costa Rica.
· Costa Rica struck a deal in January to begin airlifting Cubans out of the country, then closed its borders to stop more from coming in. That left thousands stranded to the south in Panama.
· Panama began humanitarian airlifts in May that sent more than 3,100 stranded Cubans north to Mexico at the U.S. border. Now Panama's borders are closed, too.
· Mexico gave Cubans arriving on flights from Central America temporary papers and shuttles them to the U.S. border.
· Colombia says it will deport Cubans stranded there to avoid setting a precedent and facilitating human trafficking.