American and Cuban officials met Wednesday in Washington to discuss migration for the first time this year following significant changes in how Cuban immigrants are allowed to come to the United States as part of an effort by the Biden administration to curtail a massive exodus from the island. The U.S. State Department said the meeting focused on the implementation of migration accords in place between the two countries. “The U.S. delegation highlighted areas of successful cooperation on migration, while also identifying issues that have been obstacles to fulfilling the goals of the Accords,” the State Department statement said. “Engaging in these talks underscores our commitment to pursuing constructive discussions with Cuba where appropriate to advance U.S. interests.” A State Department spokesperson said the discussions were “limited to the topic of migration.”
“Ensuring safe, orderly, humane, and regular migration between Cuba and the United States remains a primary interest of the United States, consistent with our interest in fostering family reunification, and promoting greater respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in Cuba,” the spokesperson said. David Cloe, the Department of Homeland Security’s deputy assistant secretary for the western hemisphere, led the U.S. interagency delegation. The Cuban delegation was headed by Cuban Vice Foreign Minister Carlos Fernandez de Cossio. More than 300,000 Cubans arrived in the United States last year, mainly at the Mexico border, the biggest number since the early days of the Cuban revolution led by Fidel Castro.
In January, the Biden administration expanded a program already in place for Venezuelans to allow Cubans — and migrants from Haiti and Nicaragua — to apply for special parole to enter and live in the United States for at least two years. More than 15,000 Cubans have already arrived lawfully through this parole process through March 31, a Department of Homeland Security spokesperson said. In total, over 55,000 Cubans, Nicaraguans, and Haitians and more than 40,000 Venezuelans have received travel authorization through the program, the spokesperson added. Since the start of the parole program for Cubans, official statistics recording U.S. border officers’ “encounters” with Cuban migrants nationwide show a significant decrease in the number reaching the U.S.-Mexico border. Before President Biden announced the program in early January, officials recorded more than 44,000 encounters at the border involving Cuban migrants. In February, that number was 6,548. Numbers for March have not been released yet.
Source: Miami Herald