Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Cuba and the US maintain their positions on migration

Cuba and the United States held on Wednesday "respectful dialogue" on migration issues, but both countries still maintain their conflicting views on the validity of the Cuban Adjustment Act and politics "feet dry / wet feet" UStoward the island. 
Cuba y EEUU dialogan con respeto pero mantienen sus posturas sobre migración

Deputy Assistant Secretary for Latin America at the State Department, Alex Lee, told a press conference that the US "Is fully prepared to keep the Cuban Adjustment Act," which "will continue to guide" theimmigration policy of his country to the island. 

That law, in force since 1966, with its "feet dry / wet feet" favors Cubans who manage to reach American territory that allows to apply for permanent residence one year later; while those intercepted at sea are returned to Cuba. 

For its part, the general director for USA Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Cuba, Josefina Vidal, rejected the permanence of that law, which they consider "the main incentive to illegal migration and trafficking in persons to the United States." 

The Cuban diplomat explained that the Adjustment Act "gives Cubans preferential, exclusive and unique treatment" in regulating the situation in the United States, which according to her is causing an "increase in document fraud with intent entering the US. " 

Vidal also said the policy "feet dry / wet feet" "encourages Cuban health professionals to abandon their missions in third countries", which he considered a "reprehensible practice of brain drain (...) that goes against the migration agreements. " 

Despite these differences, both Vidal and Lee highlighted the "climate of respect" and "constructive spirit" in which the discussions took place, in which both countries reiterated their commitment to a "legal, safe and orderly migration" , purpose of the agreements for a migration dialogue signed in 1994 after the episode of the "rafters crisis". 

Cuba acknowledged that the United States "is complying with the migration agreements regarding the granting of no less than 20,000 visas a year to Cuban immigrants," and that there has been an increase in visas to Cubans for temporary visits. 

The parties also agreed to expand cooperation against illegal migration and continue holding regular workshops like those that have occurred between the US Coast Guard services and border guards troops in Cuba. 

They also agreed to perform soon, but date to be determined, one of these technical meetings on document fraud, advanced Vidal. 

The US representative reported that also addressed at the meeting other issues such as family reunification programs or the return of "excludable" Cuban residents in the US that the Government of that country wants to "return to the island," mainly because there have violated the law. 

"It is the duty of all countries to accept its citizens," Lee said. 

The US official also stressed that the fact that the talks have been "productive" and collaborative spirit "proves that despite the differences, there are opportunities "to continue working on issues of mutual interest" . 

The migration talks today are the first contact between delegations of the two countries since they announced the restoration of diplomatic relations last December 17; although this new round of migration dialogue was convened for months. 

However, the parties used the meeting to start tomorrow the first official negotiations on the normalization of diplomatic ties, meetings will be headed by Secretary of State for Latin America, Roberta Jacobson, the most senior US official to visit Castro's Cuba. 

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