The US cannot address the current increase in the number of people leaving Cuba with short-term migration policies alone
The Biden-Harris administration’s announcement of new border enforcement measures including the expansion of Title 42 and a parole program for Cubans, Haitians and Nicaraguans, violates migrants’ right to seek asylum as recognized by US and international law and undermines commitments made under the Los Angeles Declaration on Migration and Protection. During a visit to Southwest Mexico in November 2022, CDA and partner civil society organizations documented that the expansion of Title 42 to Venezuelans has resulted in increased barriers to legal pathways and heightened safety risks, including substantial lack of information and confusion on available pathways to regularization, protection, and asylum, difficulty in accessing safe accommodations and shelter, increased family separation, and heightened vulnerability to sexual and gender-based violence. These findings are in addition to previous findings that reveal such policies increase repeat border crossing attempts and increase risk for violence, kidnapping, extortion, and the risk of loss of life, disproportionately affecting Black, LGBTQI+, Indigenous, and other vulnerable migrants.
CDA is strongly concerned about the further expansion of restrictions on asylum and the proposal to resurrect a Trump administration regulation which disqualifies migrants who traveled through a third country, such as Mexico, from seeking asylum. Among those on the move in the Americas, there are individuals with bona fide international protection needs, in addition to individuals with vulnerability profiles such as separated and unaccompanied children, pregnant and lactating mothers, victims of trafficking, and survivors of gender-based violence that require protection and that cannot afford to wait in their countries of origin or host countries. While it is important to expand legal pathways, these should not be accompanied by the dismantling of the asylum system.
As it pertains to the current influx of Cuban migration, this measure will fall short of addressing the root causes of migration from Cuba. In the Federal Register published on January 9, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) assesses “that the high—and rising—number of Cuban nationals encountered at the [Southwest Border] and interdicted at sea is driven by three key factors: First, Cuba is facing its worst economic crisis in decades due to the lingering impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, high food prices, and economic sanctions.” Even so, the Biden-Harris administration has yet to enact a robust Cuba policy capable of building sustainable change that affords Cubans the opportunity to stay and empowers them to advocate for their future and the future of their country.
The Administration must pair effective and protection-sensitive migration policies with a policy of engagement and dialogue with Cuba. U.S. policies are ever-increasingly outdated and blanket sanctions are only aggravating the situation on the island–over the past year, approximately 2 percent of Cuba’s population (nearly 225,000 Cubans) has sought to emigrate to the US in one of the largest waves of Cuban migration in history.
There are simple, effective policy changes that can be enacted to truly afford Cubans the opportunity to stay and empower them to advocate for their future and the future of their country. The U.S. government should begin with three key policy changes: expeditiously remove Cuba from the list of State Sponsors of Terrorism; robustly expand support to Cuba’s private sector and entrepreneurs; and implement further policy solutions at-hand to mitigate, manage, and ensure safe and orderly regional migration for Cuban migrants. Read more in CDA and WOLA’s recent commentary on steps the Biden-Harris administration can take in 2023 to best support the Cuban people. Further, pursuing a broader policy of bilateral diplomatic engagement with Cuba on issues of mutual interest beyond migration positions the US to most effectively and robustly address health, security, economic and other issues facing Latin America and the Caribbean; as well as to address humanitarian concerns and support Cuba’s civil society and private sector, bolster human rights, and adequately address irregular migration.
Learn more about the Administration’s announcement in the U.S.-Cuba section below.
This week’s Top Stories
- US increases Cuban expulsions, introduces new parole program
- U.S. Senator calls for greater U.S. support of Cuban private sector
- U.S. Embassy in Havana re-implements full immigrant visa processing and consular services
- US allows Cuban MLB baseball players based in US to play for Cuba’s national team at World Baseball Classic
- Helms Burton Title III: Cruise lines ordered to compensate U.S. companies for use of ports confiscated by Cuba’s government
The views and opinions expressed by authors are their own and articles do not necessarily reflect the views or positions of CDA.
This week, in Cuba news…
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