Cuba and the United States Hold Immigration Talks in Havana
Havana, November 15, 2022
Representatives of Cuba and the United States held bilateral migration talks in Havana on Tuesday. The Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs, Carlos Fernández de Cossío Domínguez, chaired the Cuban delegation and the Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for the Western Hemisphere Affairs Bureau, Emily Mendrala, chaired the US delegation, according to a report by MinRex.
The parties reviewed compliance with the bilateral Migration Agreements and the mutual commitment to guarantee regular, safe and orderly migration.
The Ministry of Foreign Relations (MinRex) for Cuba reported the country “reaffirmed its willingness to comply, as it has been up to now, with the established commitments,” and “reiterated its concern about the measures that stimulate illegal migration that the US government maintains in force.”
— Bruno Rodríguez P (@BrunoRguezP) November 15, 2022
Reporting on the meeting, MinRex identified the U.S. economic blockade as a leading factor for migration from Cuba:
“…The negative impact that the economic blockade of the United States and the extreme reinforcement measures applied since 2019 have on the socioeconomic conditions of the Cuban population, [are] a factor that constitutes an important stimulus for migration. The preferential treatment received by Cubans who enter US territory illegally and the validity of the Cuban Adjustment Act also constitute incentives,” stated the Cuban ministry.
At Migration Talks, #Cuba called for an end to irregular migration incentives, namely, blockade tightening measures; privileged treatment to migrants arriving irregularly in US and Cuban Adjustment Act. It also asked for non-immigrant visas processing in Havana.
— Bruno Rodríguez P (@BrunoRguezP) November 15, 2022
The Cuban delegation stressed that irregular migration is associated with the unfortunate loss of life, as well as other phenomena such as the smuggling of migrants and immigration fraud.
"USCG crews, our partner agencies are rescuing people further away from shore. The vessels aren't built to survive the sea, putting more lives at risk & some losing their lives."
— USCGSoutheast (@USCGSoutheast) November 4, 2022
Cuba also drew attention to the danger posed by the activity of criminal organizations dedicated to human trafficking.
.@CarlosFdeCossio | El impacto del bloqueo económico de EE.UU. ?? #Cuba ?? y las medidas de reforzamiento extremo aplicadas desde 2019, constituyen un estímulo importante para la migración. pic.twitter.com/tTt8Rz7Qy5
— Cancillería de Cuba (@CubaMINREX) November 15, 2022
The Cuban delegation welcomed the announcement of the full resumption of immigrant visa services at the United States embassy in Cuba as of January 4, 2023.
@USEmbCuba reanudará la tramitación completa de visados de inmigrante a partir del 4 de enero de 2023, para incluir las categorías de visado de pariente inmediato, preferencia familiar, visado de diversidad y visado de prometido K. Ver: https://t.co/k77guIoJGd https://t.co/DyQyqECoAH
— Embajada de los Estados Unidos en Cuba (@USEmbCuba) November 12, 2022
At the same time, Cuba reiterated the importance of fully reestablishing the Immigration and consular services at the US Embassy in Havana, particularly the processing of non-immigrant visas. Cuba stressed the importance of compliance with bilateral migration agreements in their entirety and not selectively.
Hoy, funcionarios de EEUU y Cuba se reunieron para discutir la implementación de los Acuerdos Migratorios que promueven los intereses de EEUU en la reunificación familiar y un mayor respeto por los derechos humanos y las libertades fundamentales en Cuba.https://t.co/cGu40m1rnN
— Embajada de los Estados Unidos en Cuba (@USEmbCuba) November 15, 2022
For its part, the U.S. State Department published a media note on the meeting, detailing that this is the second session in 2022 of the semiannual bilateral discussions on migration between both countries.
The U.S. delegation highlighted areas of successful cooperation on migration and also identified the areas that stand as obstacles to fulfilling the migration accords.
The U.S. remains committed “to pursuing constructive discussions with the Government of Cuba where appropriate to advance U.S. interests.”
The United States also addressed consular service at the U.S. Embassy in Havana and emphasized its commitment to ensuring “a safe, regular and humane migration between Cuba and the United States.”
The United States said it remains committed to fostering family reunification and promoting greater respect, human rights, and fundamental freedoms in Cuba.
Resumption of Immigrant Visas
In September, the US Embassy in Havana published a statement announcing its preparation for the full resumption of immigrant visa services in Cuba that will accelerate the processing of Cuban family reunification.
Consistent with the U.S. commitments under the Los Angeles Declaration on Migration and Protection to facilitate safe, orderly, humane, and regular migration, the United States announced an expansion of the regular pathways available to Cubans who wish to come to the United States and an increase in staff at the US Embassy in Havana.
As part of the expansion of regular pathways, in early 2023, the U.S. Embassy in Havana will resume full immigrant visa processing for the first time since 2017. This change will also eliminate the need for Cubans applying for immigrant visas in family preference categories to travel out of Cuba to Georgetown, Guyana, for their interviews.
Cuban Family Reunification Parole
Additionally, in accordance with the resumption of the Cuban Family Reunification Parole (CFRP) program in August 2022, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) plans to increase the number of personnel in Havana to efficiently process and effective cases and conduct interviews.
The Cuban Family Reunification Parole Program (CFRP) was established in 2007 to provide a safe and orderly pathway to the United States for certain Cuban beneficiaries of previously approved family-based immigration petitions.
The program allows certain US citizens and eligible legal permanent residents, who receive a letter of invitation, to apply for a permit for their relatives in Cuba that allows them to reunite in the United States without having to wait the regular processing time for immigrant visas.
These efforts constitute an important step toward fulfilling the U.S. commitment, under the United States-Cuba Migration Agreements, to ensure that total legal migration to the United States from Cuba is a minimum of 20,000 Cubans each year, not including immediate family members of US citizens.
The Department of State continues to evaluate the possibility of expanding visa services in Havana, to the extent that conditions allow.
Dr. Soledad Quartucci is the founder and CEO of Latina Republic, a 501(C)3 California-based nonprofit organization. Latina Republic is committed to improving the diversity and professional development of storytellers in the media industry as representation matters and affects the stories we tell. Latina Republic makes space for and empowers unheard voices and trains the next generation of leaders in the U.S.