Restart of U.S.-Cuba Migration Talks
The Department of State (DOS) has reinstituted talks with Cuban representatives about how to support family reunification and safe, orderly migration from Cuba to the United States.
Talks of this nature were instituted in 1984 and continued biannually from 1994 until 2018 when the talks were paused by the Trump Administration.
The Biden Administration is considering a resumption of the bilateral accords that formed the basis of these talks. Under the accords, the United States agreed to issue 20,000 immigrant visas to Cubans annually if the Cuban government would accept deportation flights (which Cuba has not been doing). Reinstituting these accords also could be part of the administration’s effort to limit problems at the southern border. Cubans are the second largest group of migrants there, second only to Mexicans. In March 2022, 32,000 Cubans were taken into custody at the border. Since November 2021, 65,000 have reached the southern border. Attempted migration surged at that time when Nicaragua eliminated visa requirements for Cuban nationals, allowing Cubans to travel overland to the United States. Previously, most of the attempted Cuban migration was across the Florida straits — a treacherous journey that Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas would like to see halted.
A growing number of Cubans reportedly are receiving humanitarian parole after being released from U.S. Customs and Border Protection custody. While humanitarian parole generally does not lead to permanent residence, it can for Cubans pursuant to the Cuban Adjustment Act of 1966 (CAA). Under the CAA, natives or citizens of Cuba are eligible to adjust status if they were inspected and admitted or paroled into the United States after January 1, 1959, have been physically present in the United States for at least one year, and otherwise are eligible for admission.
Consular services were basically suspended in Havana in 2017 due to reports of Havana Syndrome. Visa applicants have had to apply in Guyana, some 2,000 miles from Cuba. As of May 2022, the U.S. Embassy in Havana may begin to process immigrant visas “on a limited basis” with a skeleton crew.