In a press conference held on May 25, the Undersecretary for Border Policy and Immigration of the US Department of Homeland Security, Blas Nuñez-Neto, reported that 29,000 Cubans received authorization to travel to the United States under the program ” parole”. The figure corresponds to the period in which the migratory agreements between Cuba and the United States were reestablished, from January until today.

Thus, an average of 5,800 Cubans entered the United States each month through the program. However, this number is still low compared to the huge demand for travel permits. According to the CBS Newsfrom the beginning of the program until the end of April, more than 380,000 requests for parole from Cuban citizens were registered.

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Currently, Cuba is going through a serious migration crisis. It is estimated that during 2022 around 270,000 people left the island. The vast majority without permission to enter the United States, which until January of this year maintained the policy implemented by the Trump administration of keeping closed the process of granting immigrant visas to Cuban citizens, closing consular offices and eliminating regular flights between the two countries. This policy, far from discouraging migration, has led to an increase in the number of undocumented Cubans leaving.

The resumption of these visa operations in January was part of a moderate re-establishment of dialogue between the two countries. The US has committed to issuing up to 30,000 visas a month to Cubans, Haitians, Venezuelans and Nicaraguans. Since the implementation of this policy, 90,913 beneficiaries received visas in the first four months, which represents 75% of the limit established by the authorities.

Behind the numbers, life stories

“I came for family reunification about a month ago. This is the legal way possible at the moment. I came with all the documents. However, it was an odyssey. Even if it’s legal, it’s not easy, it’s never easy”, he says. Cesar Nalberto to Brazil in fact.

Currently, Nalberto lives in the city of Hialeah, in the state of Florida, with his father and one of his brothers. 20 years ago, his father moved there to work. At the end of 2016, when Cesar was about to complete his high school studies in Havana, he started the procedures to obtain a “family reunification” visa.

“There were many days waking up early and going to take papers and fill out forms. You always have the anxiety of not knowing if you’re going to get the visa or not”, he recalls. But soon after the process began, when Donald Trump took office, he suspended all visa applications, a process that was only reinstated in January of this year. It took more than six years for him to get the authorization.

Nalberto’s brother was unable to obtain formal permission and decided to cross the border without documents. “The anguish is enormous, you know how dangerous it is to cross like that and you know that someone you love is going to spend several days going through it. Every day we read news of deaths, accidents or even kidnappings… prayer”, says Nalberto with the affliction of that moment resurfacing in his words.

Xenophobia

However, the difficulties are not only in obtaining permission. Growing anti-immigration policies and xenophobia often make life once established difficult.

“Recently, the governor here in Florida, named [Ron] DeSantis, passed anti-immigration laws. For example, no undocumented migrant can have a job. They cannot be treated in any hospital without being reported. We came here to work, to fight for our future, and they created laws that don’t allow us to work”, laments Nalberto.

As of July 1st, Florida’s new immigration law will go into effect. It obliges companies with 25 or more employees to report the immigration status of their workers to the government. It also establishes a fund to send undocumented migrants to other states.

Ron DeSantis is the current governor of the state of Florida, one of the states that receives the most migrants, mostly Latinos. DeSantis is known for his controversial far-right laws and hate speech. He was re-elected as governor by the Republican party in the last elections, last November. On Wednesday, March 24, DeSantis officially filed his papers to run for president on the Republican Party in the upcoming election. The announcement was made the same day in a Twitter Spaces session with Elon Musk.

Reasons for migration

There are many reasons why Cubans choose to migrate to the US. The first is the Caribbean country’s proximity to the US coast. The second is that the state of Florida is already home to a huge community of over 1.2 million Cubans or Cuban Americans. This means that many people already have a family member, friend or acquaintance who facilitates their integration.

Also, paradoxically, in the US there is a whole series of laws that give Cubans a series of advantages over other migrants. One of the most important is the “Cuban Adjustment Act”, which allows citizens of the island who enter the US irregularly to become legal permanent residents after one year of residency.

“If we think about it, the people who lead the worst life in Cuba are not the ones who migrate. Because the people who live the worst in Cuba don’t have the means to migrate. The meanings of migration have also changed a little. Because it’s no longer about a purely economic migration as in the process of the 90’s”, says the Brazil in fact Maura Febles Domínguez, sociologist and researcher with the Galfisa group at the Cuban Institute of Philosophy.

“I feel that now there are also other reasons, which have more to do with aspirations, ideals and political frustrations as well. There is also a political crisis of participation, of decision-making, of how people are positioning themselves in a project that sometimes does not responds to them. Where the participation mechanisms are worn out and the new participation processes are not yet organized. There is an institutional crisis of leadership, and all this also has to do with these migration decisions”, he opines.

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Currently, Maura is doing her PhD in Argentina, where she has been living for almost a year with her husband and son. Even so, she says that she cannot imagine a life outside Cuba and that, once her academic and professional obligations in the South American country are over, she would like to return to Havana.


“In recent years, especially after the pandemic, there has been a very strong narrative that the only possibility of personal fulfillment – I don’t know if it’s professional, but personal – is outside Cuba. There is a very widespread common sense imaginary that thinks like this. And this has permeated everything. The family dynamics, life projects, the family, the aspirations, in the younger generations. I think the big challenge is how to reverse this situation. Make people feel part of a project again and that the feeling of personal fulfillment is also present in Cuba”, reflects Fables Domínguez.

Editing: Nicolau Soares

Source: www.brasildefato.com.br



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