Amid the growing migration crisis
HAVANA TIMES — Washington and Havana clashed today on the need to repeal or maintain the Cuban Adjustment Act, at a time when over 3,500 Cubans are stranded in Central America, reported dpa news.
Washington welcomed today a new round of migration talks between the delegations of Cuba and the United States.
At the talks, Cuba reiterated its call on the US to rescind the 1966 Cuban Adjustment Act and the implementation of the policy called “wet feet, dry feet”, policies Cuba says encourage illegal immigration and is the cause of the Cuban migrants stuck in Costa Rica near the border with Nicaragua.
For its part, the US government repeated that it has no intention to change US immigration policy toward the island and that the administration has no plans to alter the Cuban Adjustment Act.
Washington is reluctant to make changes, fearing that an announcement of a revocation of the law could lead Cubans to emigrate en masse before the change would go into effect.
The Cuban delegation at today’s session was headed by Josefina Vidal, Director General of United States Foreign Ministry, while leading the US delegation was the State Department’s Deputy Assistant Secretary for Western Hemisphere Affairs, Edward Alex Lee.
During the meeting, the Cuban delegation insisted that the Cuban Adjustment Act and the “dry feet, wet feet” policy has stimulated illegal, unsafe and disorderly migration,” according to a statement issued from the Cuban embassy in Washington.
Havana also considers that this policy is the cause of “smuggling operations and irregular entry into the United States from third countries by Cubans who leave the island entering their initial destination country from where they attempt to reach the United States in an irregular manner.”
The government of Raul Castro said these Cubans become “victims of networks of traffickers and organized crime, as evidenced most recently following the situation created in Costa Rica and other countries in the region.”
The Cuban delegation also reiterated its rejection of the “Parole Program for Cuban medical professionals”, established by the Bush administration in 2006, and which allows healthcare professionals participating on international missions for the Cuban government, to abandon their jobs and enter the United States.
According to the Cuban government, the program “encourages doctors and other Cuban health personnel to abandon their missions in third countries and immigrate to the United States.” Havana considers this “a reprehensible practice aimed at damaging the Cuban cooperation programs and depriving Cuba of vital human resources that many other countries also need.”
The Cuban delegation stated that both the policy of “wet feet, dry feet” and the “Program for Medical Professional Parole Cubans” are “inconsistent with the current bilateral context, hindering the normalization of migratory relations between Cuba and the United States and creating problems to other countries in the region. ”
The Cuban Adjustment Act of 1966 offers Cubans who reach the United States, regardless of whether they have done so legally or illegally, a fast-track to legal residence -a year and one day after arriving to the country-, and later US citizenship.
According to the “wet foot-dry foot” policy the US repatriates all Cubans intercepted at sea (“wet feet”) attempting to enter the country irregularly. Those who step on American soil (“dry feet”) can request permanent residency.
The US and Cuba formally reestablished bilateral relations last July, after more than half a century of disruption.