The Cuban government rigorously complies with the immigration agreements it has signed with the United States, said Yuri Gala López, director of bilateral affairs at the U.S. Foreign Ministry’s General
In an interview with Cuban News Agency, Gala López reiterated that Cuba follows to the letter the commitments on migration agreed upon with the U.S. government, the latest of which was a Joint Declaration initialed on January 12, 2017.
Since the first of the agreements, in December 1984, until today, both countries have assumed obligations that the island has systematically honored, even in difficult circumstances of bilateral relations, he said.
On a review of the year and a half after the January 2017, the official highlighted the important contribution of the Joint Declaration to discourage irregular migration, in which the United States abolished the wet-foot dry-foot policy, as well as the parole program for Cuban health professionals in third countries.
According to the US Customs and Border Protection (CBP), since January 12 of last year that nation adopted measures that have resulted in a significant reduction in irregular or illegal migration, as it is also known.
CBP data consulted by the ACN corroborate the deterrent effect of the Joint Declaration and the substantial decrease of irregular migrants to that nation: in fiscal year 2016 -which in the U.S. begins on October 1 of the previous year- 41,523 Cuban citizens arrived at the US southern border with
Mexico; in 2017 the number decreased to 15,410 and until June 30, 2010 they barely exceeded 4,700.
Information published by local media in the United States, citing the U.S. Coast Guard, emphasizes the increased rigor in preventing the arrival of rafters to the coasts of that nation.
A South Florida news channel reported last April that only 144 Cubans had attempted to enter illegally by sea since October 1, 2017, compared to 1,951 in the previous fiscal year.
Gala López commented that the island has periodically received the so-called inadmissible – those that after January 12, 2017 tried to enter or remain illegally in the U.S. – always in accordance with international laws and regulations and following the expedited mechanisms between institutions
of both governments.
However, the normalization of bilateral migratory relations is a complex issue because for decades the United States applied biased and selective measures as a political instrument for the destabilization of the island.
The migratory links have been distorted by the politicization that successive U.S. administrations have imposed on the issue since the triumph of the Revolution, with measures aimed at stimulating irregular migration from Cuba to discredit it at the international level, drain it of its qualified personnel and provide a social base for its policies against Cuba, said the diplomat, who was part of the Foreign Ministry team that worked in 2015 to agree to re-establish diplomatic ties between the two countries.
He pointed out that the Cuban Adjustment Law constitutes a fundamental obstacle to the full normalization of bilateral migratory relations, since it is a stimulus for those who intend to emigrate without adhering to the rules for regular, safe and orderly transit.
The Joint Declaration of January last year also seeks to ensure that Cuban citizens do not risk irregular transit through various countries, exposed to criminal gangs engaged in human trafficking and smuggling, he recalled.
Although in 2016 and 2017 the United States fulfilled its commitment to grant at least 20,000 visas to Cubans who intend to migrate to that country on a regular and safe basis, it seems that this year it will not happen due to the suspension of consular work at the Washington Embassy in Havana – in
October 2017 – alleging alleged incidents against the personnel of that entity, without any evidence or probable cause for the symptoms reported by the officials having been presented until today.
The U.S. government has created obstacles to the fulfillment of its obligations, specifically in relation to the granting of 20,000 visas for migrants annually, said the Foreign Ministry official.
Although official figures are not available, a State Department spokeswoman acknowledged in February that “due to the departure of all non-emergency personnel from the Embassy in Havana, we will face challenges in meeting that commitment in fiscal year 2018.
At present, Cubans who intend to migrate permanently to the United States must travel to Guyana to carry out the corresponding procedures there, without the security of achieving their purpose, and incur in expenses in consular fees, to have a medical check-up for several hundred dollars, to buy a ticket from Havana to Georgetown that ranges between one thousand and one thousand 200 dollars, as well as food for several weeks, in addition to lodging.
Cubans who only intend to travel to the U.S. to visit a family member or for work purposes must also spend large sums to go to a country to apply for a visa at the U.S. Embassy.
Cuba has reiterated in various bilateral and international forums its concern about the negative consequences of the unilateral, unfounded and politically motivated decisions taken by the Donald Trump administration to withdraw some of its staff from Havana and to expel a similar number of
Cuban officials from Washington.
The migration agreements between the two nations seek to ensure a regular, safe and orderly flow, and comprise two joint communiqués of December 1984 and September 1994, and two joint declarations of May 1995 and January 2017.