US urges migrant sponsorship organizations to stop ‘dangerous’ migration

Written by Orlando Matos and Carmen Sessin – NBC News

The United States is trying to increase the number of people within organizations willing to sponsor immigrants from Cuba and other countries as part of the program Parole Benjamin Ziff, the US Chargé d’Affaires in Havana, said a humanitarian initiative was promoted by President Joe Biden’s administration.

The program, which began in October 2022 for Venezuelans, was expanded in January to Cubans, Nicaraguans and Haitians. Up to 30,000 people from these four countries are eligible each month Parole Humanitarian law that allows them to work in the United States for two years.

Those who attempt to cross the southern border irregularly will be returned to Mexico and denied the ability to apply for asylum.

So far, More than 16,000 Cubans have arrived in the United States Thanks to this initiative that requires a sponsor.

In an interview in Havana with NBC News, Noticias Telemundo’s sister network, Ziff said the program is “innovative because you don’t need to have family or friends as sponsors.” “An NGO, a church, or any organization can sponsor an immigrant to go to the United States,” Ziv said, noting that the goal is to have “legal, orderly, and safe immigration.”

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In Cuba, some people seeking to immigrate to the United States who do not have close relatives in the country have become victims of scams. Others make the perilous journey in makeshift boats across the Straits of Florida.

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“Representatives of the State Department’s Bureau of Cuban Affairs and the US Embassy in Havana continually encourage the institutions to be sponsors of the program,” Ziv added in a statement. “We maintain relations with representatives of religious, non-governmental and humanitarian organizations in both the United States and Cuba,” he added.

The number of people arriving by sea has increased recently. Since October, the Coast Guard has intercepted 6,317 Cubans, compared to 6,182 recorded in fiscal year 2022 and 838 recorded in 2021.

Cuba maintains that the Cuban-American Adjustment Act, enacted in 1962, encourages irregular immigration by allowing most Cubans admitted to the United States and released to apply for legal residency in the country after a year and a day.

The Biden government has had to deal with record numbers of migrants trying to cross the US-Mexico border. More than 220,000 Cubans arrived at the US-Mexico border in 2022, more than in any other year on record.

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Illegal border crossings have dropped dramatically since the parole program was announced in January.

Cuba is mired in an economic crisis driven by a decline in tourism since the pandemic, tightening US sanctions and a centralized economic model. Shortages of food, medicine and electricity are rampant. Inflation has pushed up prices of basic foodstuffs and a shortage of petrol has caused queues for hours.

The United States and Cuba held a new round of immigration talks in Washington last week.

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“We covered the various elements of the immigration situation, and we also discussed the role of the US Embassy in Havana in issuing visas,” Ziv said.

The US Embassy in Havana resumed processing immigrant visas in January after being closed since 2017, but nonimmigrant visas remain pending.

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“We don’t have the situation or the facilities that we had a few years ago to be able to offer non-immigrant visas,” Ziv said.

He said that when they have regular staff and overcome the backlog of immigrant visas, they will consider the possibility of resuming non-immigrant visa services at the embassy.

“We have to increase our staff here. At the same time, the Cuban government is facilitating our logistical needs for homes, staff, visas and other items that require their assistance so that we can bring back the embassy staff,” Ziv said. “I think the Cuban government is ready to assist us in this important mission, and we hope that we will return to normal operations as soon as possible,” he added.

Meetings on immigration are held twice a year and no date has yet been set for the next round of talks.

Ziff also said that the United States “seeks a correct, pragmatic relationship with the Cuban government. There is a sphere of interests that we share with Cuba, with the Cuban people.”

“We have a very deep disagreement with the Cuban government about its policies in the area of ​​human rights and its lack of freedoms on the island, but at the same time we have other interests that interest us and we will continue to work on them which are related to the interests of the United States in the region.”

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Aileen Morales

"Beer nerd. Food fanatic. Alcohol scholar. Tv practitioner. Writer. Troublemaker. Falls down a lot."

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