Diplomatic relations between the United States and Cuba ran into major problems during the height of the Cold War in the early 1960s. In recent years, relations between the countries have begun to move towards normalization. The return to normalization was highlighted by President Barack Obama’s visit to Cuba in May of 2015. Recently, just a week before leaving office, President Obama announced that the U.S. and Cuban governments had signed a new migration agreement. Here, we discuss the important elements of this new agreement and what the agreement might mean going forward.
Three Things You Should Know About the US-Cuba Immigration Agreement
- It Ends the Wet Foot/Dry Foot Policy
As part of the agreement, the Obama administration announced that it was officially ending the ‘wet foot/dry foot’ policy. Wet foot/dry foot is the informal name used to refer to the consequences of changes made to the Cuban Adjustment Act (CAA) in the mid 1990s. At that time, Bill Clinton’s presidential administration reached an agreement with the Cuban government that stated that the U.S. would stop giving legal status to Cubans found in the water between the two countries. These individuals would simply be sent back to Cuba or to a third country. However, under this policy, Cuban citizens found on American soil were not deported. Instead, they were generally given an opportunity to obtain legal status. The new migration agreement ends this policy. As of now, any Cuban citizen found in the United States without a proper visa will be detained or removed from the country
- The Cuban Medical Parole Program Has Been Eliminated
Similarly, under the old system, Cuban medical professionals who were working outside of their home country were automatically allowed admission into the United States. The new agreement has eliminated this program. According to the Obama administration, the program was hurting the quality of medical care available in Cuba
- The Cuban Adjustment Act Remains in Place, Uncertainty Reigns
The special immigration policies that were previously available for Cuban residents were available under the Cuban Adjustment Act. As this legislation was enacted by Congress, the president had no authority to unilaterally repeal the law. However, the CAA gives wide authority to the administration in regards to how the law is to be implemented. While this gave the Obama administration power to enact new regulations and make new agreements, it likewise gives the Trump administration the same authority. As such, the incoming Trump administration will either be able to continue Obama’s new policies or to revert to the previous policy. Currently, there is immense uncertainty regarding what Trump’s administration will do.
We Support Immigrants in Southern California
At the Goldstein Immigration Lawyers, our compassionate immigration attorneys always stay up to date with the latest developments in U.S. immigration policies. If you have any questions or concerns about Cuba-to-U.S. immigration, please do not hesitate to contact our team today. From our office in Los Angeles, we provide immigration services to clients throughout Southern California, including in Glendale, Beverly Hills, Torrance and Downey. We also serve immigrants in the entertainment industry, and we are happy to offer immigration solutions today.