U.S. and Cuba Fail To Resolve Complaints About U.S. Immigration Policies

On November 30 in Washington, D.C. the United States and Cuba held their biannual migration talks without progress in resolving major disputes over U.S. immigration benefits for certain Cubans. Immediately afterwards Cuba imposed travel restrictions on Cuban medical personnel.

Summary of the Bilateral Talks[1]

The Cuban delegation reiterated its deep concern over the U.S.’ Cuban Adjustment Act and the “wet foot-dry foot” policy. Cuba insisted that this U.S. policy has encouraged illegal, unsafe and disorderly migration and trafficking in migrants and irregular entries into the U.S. from third countries. This happened most recently in Costa Rica and other Central American countries.[2] Cuba insisted that this policy violates the letter and spirit of their Migratory Agreements in force, by which the U.S. undertook to discontinue the practice of admitting Cuban migrants who reached their territory by irregular means, to ensure a safe and orderly legal migration between the two countries.

The U.S., however, continued to assert that it did not intend to make changes in this immigration policy.

The Cuban delegation also reiterated its objections to the U.S. “Parole Program for Cuban Medical Professionals.” Cuba stressed that this was a reprehensible practice aimed at damaging the Cuban international medical mission programs and deprived Cuba and many needy countries of vital human resources. According to Cuba, this U.S. program also Is inconsistent with the countries’ bilateral Migratory Agreements, hinders the normalization of their migratory relations and generates problems to other countries in the region.

Nevertheless the Cuban delegation emphasized that the talks took place in a friendly and professional environment, that other aspects of migratory relations were evaluated, including the implementation of existing agreements, the issuance of visas for immigrants and temporary visitors, the actions of both parties to address illegal people smuggling and document fraud. The two delegations agreed on the positive results that had occurred at the prior bilateral technical meeting on immigration fraud, held in March 2015 in Havana.

The delegation of Cuba conveyed its willingness to continue these talks and invited a U.S. delegation to do so in Havana in the first half of 2016,

The U.S. Department of State spokesperson was much briefer in comments that had been prepared before the talks. She said, “Today the U.S. and Cuba will hold their biannual migration talks . . .  to discuss continuing implementation of the U.S.-Cuba Migration Accords, which provide for the safe, orderly, and legal migration of Cubans to the U.S.”

The U.S. spokesperson added, “The U.S. “will be proposing . . . a discussions on how both governments can contribute to combating smuggling organizations that take advantage of Cuban migrants. Additionally, we are looking for solutions to the challenge if migrants do not have a valid asylum claim or other legal basis to remain in a country. We recognize that governments have the sovereign right to return them to their home country. Any and all returns should be carried out safely and with dignity.”

New Cuban Exit-Restrictions on Cuban Medical Professionals[3]

After the talks in Washington had been concluded and the U.S. continued refusal to change its Cuban medical professional parole program, the Cuban government in Havana announced that effective December 7 Cuban health professionals in specialties that have been drained by large-scale emigration in recent years will now be required to obtain permission from Cuba’s Health Ministry officials in order to leave the country.

These specialties included anesthesiology, cardiology, pediatrics, neurosurgery, nephrology, obstetrics, gynaecology, orthopaedics, traumatology and neonatology. In reviewing applications for exit visas in these specialties, the Ministry will analyze the proposed dates of travel, the coverage of the individuals’ practice in their absence and guaranteeing the accessibility, quality, continuity and stable functioning of Cuban health services

Conclusion

I agree that special immigration benefits for Cubans arriving on land in the U.S. should be eliminated as soon as possible.[4] Although I am a retired attorney, I have not attempted to determine whether the Obama Administration on its own by executive order or changes in regulations could do this or whether it requires Congress to pass a bill on this subject, but I plan to conduct at least a preliminary legal analysis of this issue for a future post. (I would appreciate comments on this issue by those with more knowledge of the issues.)

I also agree that the U.S. should abolish the Cuban Medical Professional Parole Program as discussed in prior posts.[5] Again I have not attempted to determine whether the Obama Administration on its own by executive order or changes in regulations could do this or whether it requires Congress to pass a bill to do this. (I also would appreciate comments on this issue by those with more knowledge of the issues.)

I originally was baffled by the U.S.’ continued assertions that there would be no changes in U.S. immigration policies regarding Cuba because those policies, in my opinion, are so illogical and inappropriate for countries with normal relations. Now I suspect that those assertions were based upon the Administration’s assessment of the difficulty (or impossibility) in obtaining Congressional approval of any necessary legislative changes on these issues and the Administration’s belief or hope that such assertions would discourage Cubans from immediately accelerating their plans or desire to leave Cuba for the U.S.

As a result, I am disappointed that the U.S. has not changed these policies.

==============================================

[1] Migration talks between Cuba and the United States, Granma (Nov. 30, 2015); Press Release issued by the Cuban Delegation to the Round of Migration Talks between Cuba and the United States. Washington, November 30, 2015; U.S. State Dep’t, Daily Press Briefing (Nov. 30, 2015); Whitefield, Despite talks, U.S.-Cuba migration impasse continues, Miami Herald (Nov. 30, 2015).

[2] Cubans in Central America Provide Cuba with an Opportunity To Reiterate Its Objections to U.S. immigration Policies (Nov. 20, 2015); Update on Cuban Migrants in Central America (Nov. 27, 2015).

[3] Assoc. Press, Cuba Imposes Travel Permit for Doctors to Limit Brain Drain, N.Y. Times (Dec. 1, 2015); Declaration of the Revolutionary Government, Granma (Nov. 30, 2015). The Cuban Government’s Declaration also reiterated its complaints about the U.S. Cuban Adjustment Act and the dry feet/wet feet policy.

[4] E.g., Results of U.S.-Cuba Discussions After Ceremonial Opening of U.S. Embassy in Havana (Aug. 18, 2015).

[5] E.g., New York Times Calls for End of U.S. Program for Special Immigration Relief for Cuban Medical Personnel ( Nov. 23, 2014).

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dwkcommentaries

As a retired lawyer and adjunct law professor, Duane W. Krohnke has developed strong interests in U.S. and international law, politics and history. He also is a Christian and an active member of Minneapolis’ Westminster Presbyterian Church. His blog draws from these and other interests. He delights in the writing freedom of blogging that does not follow a preordained logical structure. The ex post facto logical organization of the posts and comments is set forth in the continually being revised “List of Posts and Comments–Topical” in the Pages section on the right side of the blog.

6 thoughts on “U.S. and Cuba Fail To Resolve Complaints About U.S. Immigration Policies”

  1. Comment: U.S. State Department Comments on Cuban Migration and Counter-Narcotics Talks

    On December 1 the U.S. State Department released a statement about its November 30 discussions with Cuba about migration issues.

    It added to the information about the talks with the following: “The delegations discussed continuing implementation of the U.S.-Cuba Migration Accords, which provide for the safe, orderly, and legal migration of Cubans to the United States. The groups also discussed recent trends in migration, such as the entry of Cuban migrants into the United States and human smuggling. The U.S. delegation expressed its concern for the safety of the thousands of Cuban migrants transiting through Central America. The U.S. and Cuban delegations agreed to expert-level meetings on how both governments will contribute to combatting the smuggling organizations that take advantage of Cuban migrants.”

    This statement was accentuated by the following in the last paragraph: “The United States is committed to supporting safe, orderly, and legal migration from Cuba through the effective implementation of the 1994-95 U.S.-Cuba Migration Accords.”

    In addition, at the December 1 Daily Press Briefing, the Department spokesman said that that day “officials from the U.S. and Cuban governments are meeting for the second Counter-Narcotics Dialogue in Washington, D.C. Representatives from the U.S. Department of State, the Drug Enforcement Administration, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and the U.S. Coast Guard are meeting with representatives of the Cuban Government to discuss the ways . . . to stop the illegal flow of narcotics to and from Cuba and the United States, and exploring ways the two countries can cooperate on this issue.”
    ==================================================

    U.S. State Dep’t, United States and Cuba Hold Migration Talks (Dec. 1, 2015), http://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/ps/2015/12/250198.htm.

    U.S. State Dep’t, Daily Press Briefing (Dec. 1, 2015), http://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/dpb/2015/12/250212.htm#CUBA.

  2. I have supplied the author of this commentary with the articles and legal experts with which to verify that the Administration has the authority to changes these regulations imposed by previous administrations. I am in a quandry of the author why he does not acknowledge it and verify this to his readers.

    1. Mr. Klave does not read my posts. I have said that I plan to conduct at least a preliminary investigation of the claim by some that the Administration has legal authority by itself, without congressional action, to change its special immigration policies regarding Cuba. The assertions to that effect by some are not persuasive on their face to this retired lawyer. I note that Mr. Klave is not an attorney and is not qualified by himself to reach any legitimate conclusion on this issue by himself.

  3. Comment: U.S. Statement on Counter-Narcotics Talks with Cuba

    On December 2 the U.S. State Department released a Media Note about the previous day’s counter-narcotics talks with Cuba. It merely said, “Representatives from the U.S. Department of State, U.S. Department of Justice, U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and the U.S. Coast Guard met with representatives of the Cuban government to discuss ways to stop the illegal flow of narcotics to and from Cuba and the United States, and explore ways the two countries can cooperate on this issue.”

    U.S. State Dep’t, United States and Cuba Hold Counter-Narcotics Dialogue (Dec. 2, 2015), http://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/ps/2015/12/250259.htm.

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