Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Cuba steps up campaign against U.S. immigration policies

Cuba steps up campaign against U.S. immigration policies

The Cuban government has never liked the Cuban Adjustment Act, which
allows Cubans who reach the United States to remain, but it's stepping
up its campaign against it as it struggles to hold onto human resources
it considers crucial to the island's economy.

In recent days, Cuban officials have called on President Barack Obama to
use his executive powers to end the controversial wet foot, dry foot
policy and to cut off the professional medical parole program that has
led thousands of doctors and medical professionals, trained, for free,
in Cuban universities, to flee to the United States.

The Cuban government made its latest demand via Granma, the Cuban
government's newspaper, where officials accused the United States of
maintaining policies and laws that encourage illegal migration and
violate migratory agreements between the two countries.

"Born in the times of the Cold War, its goal remains to destabilize the
country," the Granma article stated.

It is only the latest appeal by the Cuban government in recent weeks as
the country looks to protect resources amid an economic slowdown that's
largely the result of the crisis in Venezuela.

State workers have had their hours reduced and some neighborhoods have
reported blackouts as the country faces energy losses due to decreasing
oil shipments from Venezuela.

Doctors are another critical revenue-earner for the Cuban government,
which loans medical professionals out to other countries in return for
oil, commodities and cash.

"They're providing doctors to other countries and getting something in
return," said Gregory Weeks, editor of the academic journal The Latin
Americanist. "If those doctors find it easy to come to the United
States, then that is something that Cuba just loses. In the context of
economic slowdown, they can't afford to lose those people."

The Cuban Medical Professional Parole Program, which started under
President George W. Bush in 2006, has approved more than 7,000
applications, according to data from the U.S. Department of Homeland

The Cuban government has likened the program to theft and a direct
attempt to upend the island government. Since 1963, Cuba has sent
medical teams abroad not just for humanitarian reasons, but also for
money. Almost 132,000 doctors have worked as "internacionalistas,"
according to Granma. Currently, more than 50,000 Cubans are working abroad.

The complaints are not new, but Weeks says the government has
intensified its pressure on the Obama administration to do more during
the final months of Obama's presidency. Weeks said the Cuban government
may also be concerned about losing engineers and other non-medical
professionals that the government has invested in via the U.S. wet foot,
dry foot policy, which grants U.S. entry to any Cuban who reaches dry land.

Since the U.S. and Cuba reestablished relations, the numbers of Cubans
leaving the island have surged to record levels, in part because of fear
that the U.S. will alter policies that give Cubans special immigration

During the first 10 months of fiscal year 2016, 46,635 Cubans entered
the U.S. via ports of entry, according to U.S. Customs and Border
Protection data obtained by the Pew Research Center through a public
records request. That's higher than 2015's total of 43,159, which was 78
percent higher than 2014, when 24,278 Cubans entered the U.S.

Earlier this month, Cuban deputy foreign minister Abelardo Moreno told
reporters in Havana that it will be difficult, if not impossible, to
resolve claims over U.S. corporate and personal property taken by Cuba
until the United States lifts the trade embargo.

And last month, on the one-year anniversary of the re-establishment of
diplomatic relations between the two countries, Emilio Lozada, the Cuban
ambassador to Russia, accused the Obama administration of not doing
enough to dismantle the U.S. trade embargo against Cuba and accused the
United States of trying to turn Cuba into an "appendage" of the United

Email:; Twitter: @francoordonez.

Source: Cuba steps up campaign against U.S. embargo and Cuban adjustment
act | In Cuba Today -
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