The United States and Cuba have had a fraught relationship for over half a century. In 1961, the United States severed diplomatic relations with Cuba. It instituted a trade embargo in response to the communist government’s nationalization of American-owned property and alignment with the Soviet Union. However, in recent years, there has been a thawing of relations between the two countries. In December 2014, President Obama announced that the United States would begin normalizing relations with Cuba, including re-establishing diplomatic ties and easing travel and trade restrictions.
The Department of State has been in talks with Cuban representatives since December 2014 to try and support family reunification and safe, orderly migration from Cuba to the United States. The talks have had their ups and downs, with bilateral discords on issues such as human rights and the U.S. embargo on Cuba. However, progress continues to be made, most recently with an agreement reached in September 2015 to resume issuing visas for humanitarian parole.
One area of dispute between the two countries has been immigration. The Cuban Adjustment Act of 1966 allows Cuban nationals who arrive in the United States to apply for permanent residency after one year. This policy has led to many Cubans seeking to immigrate to the United States in recent years, straining relations between the two countries. In 2017, for example, the Trump administration ended the so-called “wet foot, dry foot” policy, allowing Cuban nationals who arrived on American soil to stay in the country. In response, Cuba announced that it would no longer grant exit visas to citizens seeking to emigrate.
The Cuban Adjustment Act of 1966 continues to be an important tool for Cubans seeking to immigrate to the United States. Under this act, Cubans who have been physically present in the United States for at least one year and who can demonstrate a fear of persecution if they were to return to Cuba are eligible for permanent residence. This act has allowed many Cubans to start new lives in the United States, and it remains an important option for those seeking to immigrate from Cuba today.
Humanitarian parole is another area of disagreement between the United States and Cuba. In September 2017, the Trump administration announced that it would end the issuance of visas for humanitarian parole to Cuban nationals. This policy change led to a significant increase in Cubans seeking asylum at the U.S.-Mexico border. In response, Cuba began issuing exit visas to citizens wishing to leave the country.
The evolution of the talks between the United States and Cuba on immigration issues has been marked by bilateral agreements and disagreements. The most recent agreement reached between the two sides is a resume in issuing visas for humanitarian parole. The Cuban Adjustment Act of 1966 still allows many Cubans to start new lives in the United States. This act allows those who have been physically present in the United States for at least one year and can demonstrate a fear of persecution if they return to Cuba and are eligible for permanent residence. Many Cubans have used this act as an opportunity to seek a new life away from the island nation. The goal of the talks may not have changed much since their conception, but both sides have made some progress on key issues.
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