Saturday, June 3, 2023

Cuba resumes accepting US deportation flights

Cuba plans to accept emigration flights from the United States, a Cuban official has announced, reflecting US concerns about the highest levels of Cuban migration in six decades.Cuban Deputy Foreign Minister Carlos Fernández de Cossío said the flights are expected before the United States limits asylum due to the pandemic on May 11, which is expected to increase the number of people seeking to enter the country from Mexico.

The ambassador spoke in an interview with Associated Press at the Cuban ambassador’s residence outside Washington after what he called “fruitful testimony” to talk about migration. “We have a common understanding on both sides, the United States and Cuba, about the nature of the problem,” he said.

Fernández de Cossio said there was no agreement on the frequency of flights, which depends on the capacity of both countries, but added that there are no reasons not to return to pandemic levels of two per month. The last flight was in December 2019.

The US Department of Homeland Security did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Friday.

Cubans were detained 43,000 times at the border with Mexico in December, making them among the largest number of nationals entering the United States. The numbers fell in January when the administration of President Joe Biden announced Cubans can flee to the United States if they applied online and had a financial sponsor. They would be deported to Mexico if they crossed the border illegally.

“We will see if in the next few weeks, we can get one and do it regularly so that people can be easily transported, not to Mexico, but directly to Cuba,” Fernández de Cossio said Thursday night.

He said the number of Cubans fleeing the boats, especially the powerful boats associated with smugglers, had begun to dwindle months ago and that more Cubans were flying to Nicaragua as tourists, usually the first step before traveling overland. on the US-Mexico border.

Fernández de Cossio said the changes announced in January — under which Cubans, Haitians, Nicaraguans, and Venezuelans can apply to enter the United States on humanitarian grounds — will help reduce the number of Cubans crossing the border illegally from Mexico, but warned it is not a long-term solution.

“It is irresponsible or naive of us to think that this is sustainable in the long term because the number of visas will always be limited,” he said.

It is not clear how many flights the United States will need to deter heavy Cuban migration.

The two countries planned five deportation flights after November, but all of them were canceled due to various reasons, Fernández de Cossio said, noting that Cuba supported the flights in theory.

Border Patrol agents apprehended more migrants last year than at any time since records have been kept, mostly Cubans, Venezuelans, and Nicaraguans, countries with which it currently has diplomatic relations. The United States found it extremely difficult to take on deportation flights to those countries, forcing the government to turn aid to Mexico.

Washington is rapidly preparing to end Title 42, the so-called public health measure, under which more than 2.7 million people have been deported on the grounds of preventing the transmission of COVID-19.

This week, the United States, Panama, and Colombia announced a plan to stop migration through the Darien Gap in Panama, where deaths are frequent. There are also attempts to speed up asylum applications in a closed border crossing to quickly turn away those who do not approve.

Fernández de Cossio said that in the talks in Washington, he called for the lifting of sanctions on Cuba and for the amendment of the Cuban Adjustment Act, which allows Cubans to apply for legal residency after living in the United States for a year.

World Nation News Desk
World Nation News Desk
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