Cuban migrants face new difficulties under new DOJ ruling

The Board of Immigration Appeals of the United States Department of Justice recently issued a ruling which disqualifies the possibility of benefiting from the Cuban Adjustment Act (CAA) to those immigrants of this origin who entered the country under Form I -220A. This category constitutes an “Order of Release on Recognizance,” which means that they are released from the physical control of the Immigration Department (ICE), but remain on “parole,” subject to the control of that agency.

The procedure of granting “parole” to Cuban immigrants has been used since the early 1960s to resolve the circumstantial status of those Cuban immigrants who, encouraged by US policy itself, have entered illegally to its territory.

In this case, these are mostly those who have arrived at the border in the last two years, forming part of the waves of millions of immigrants that the US government tries unsuccessfully to stop using very repressive policies against these people. Although Cubans have not been the only ones who were temporarily accepted to enter through the I-220A form, an inevitable measure aimed at decongesting the ICE prisons on the borders. its great advantage is that it was assumed that after a year and a day of stay in the United States these persons could benefit from the CAA and obtain permanent residency in the country.

Passed in 1966, the CAA is a unique law that only applies to Cubans. Although there have been other adjustment laws to resolve the legal stay of other immigrants, the CAA is the only one that applies indefinitely, that is, it grants the power to the attorney general to proceed with the legal adjustment of any Cuban who arrives or arrived in the United States after January 1, 1959.

Although the law itself establishes the requirement of having been previously “inspected and admitted” by the immigration authorities at the time of arrival, very few Cubans have been denied the possibility of legalizing their status. That is precisely what has changed as of the recent ruling, according to federal immigration authorities, the I-220A is not equivalent to the so-called “humanitarian parole”, but only a “transitional acceptance” that does not qualify for the terms of “inspected and admitted.” established by the CAA.

Such a decision leaves more than 300,000 Cuban immigrants who have entered the United States undocumented in recent years in legal limbo. As is the case with immigrants from other countries, they are subject to deportation, with the aggravating factor that the Cuban government would be obliged to accept them, since this is established in the immigration agreements signed between the two countries. Added to this is that, in general, these people did not emigrate illegally from Cuba, but rather arrived in a third country legally, before continuing their journey to the US border.

It is difficult to imagine the US government involved in the persecution, arrest and deportation of tens of thousands of Cuban immigrants, as is the case with other nationalities. The entire constructed and developed around the “exceptionality” of Cuban migrants would collapse if images of the “migra” appear attacking their workplaces or places of residence to catch them, especially when, although it is still a significant number, they represent a minority on the scale of the great immigration problem that affects the US.

Although in line with the rejection of immigration that predominates in US policy, from which new Cuban immigrants are not exempt, even by a large part of the community of this origin settled in the United States, one must rather think that it is of a deterrent that, combined with others that reestablish legal procedures paralyzed by Donald Trump’s administration, try to keep the flow of Cubans under control.

The conflict, on the one hand, encourages Cuban emigration and, on the other, tries to control it to levels acceptable to the United States, has been at the center of US policy towards Cuba. The Cuban Adjustment Act has operated as one of the valves to exercise this balance and in this case it is being closed, even if it is only half-way and no one knows for how long.