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US urges organizations to sponsor immigrants to stop “dangerous” migration


More than 16,000 Cubans have immigrated to the US through a humanitarian parole program since it began in January, US charge d'affaires in Havana Benjamin Ziff told NBC News.

By Orlando Matos and Carmen Sesin -

NBC News

The United States is trying to expand the number of people within organizations willing to sponsor migrants from Cuba and other countries as part of the humanitarian


program promoted by the President's Administration, Joe Biden, said Benjamin Ziff, United States charge d'affaires in La Havana.

The program, which launched in October 2022 for Venezuelans, was expanded in January to include Cubans, Nicaraguans and Haitians.

Up to 30,000 people from these four countries are eligible each month for humanitarian


, which 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.

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So far,

more than 16,000 Cubans have arrived in the United States

thanks to this initiative that requires having a sponsor. 

The program is "innovative since you don't need to have family or friends as sponsors," Ziff said in an interview in Havana with NBC News, the sister network of Noticias Telemundo.

"An NGO, a church, any organization can sponsor a migrant to go to the United States," said Ziff, who indicated that the goal is to have "legal, orderly, and safe migration."

["He's alive, that's what matters": what we know about the Cuban pilot who landed in Florida after escaping from the island in an old plane] 

In Cuba, some of the people who seek to migrate to the United States and do not have close relatives in the country have been victims of scams.

Others undertake the perilous journey in makeshift boats through the Florida Straits.

"Representatives of the State Department's Office of Cuban Affairs and the United States Embassy in Havana constantly encourage the institutions to be sponsors of the program," Ziff added in a statement.

"We maintain relations with representatives of religious, non-governmental and humanitarian organizations, both in the United States and in Cuba," he added.

The number of people arriving by sea has skyrocketed in recent times.

Since October, the Coast Guard has intercepted 6,317 Cubans, compared to 6,182 in fiscal year 2022 and 838 registered in 2021.

How many people can I sponsor from the 'parole' program for Venezuela, Cuba, Haiti and Nicaragua?

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Cuba maintains that the US Cuban Adjustment Act, enacted in 1962, promotes irregular migration by allowing most Cubans who are admitted and paroled into the US to apply for legal residence in the country after of a year and a day.

The Biden government has had to deal with record numbers of immigrants 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.

["Today they are going to eat with dignity": Cuban mother had lobster dinner with her children in an expensive restaurant in Havana knowing that she could not pay the bill]

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

Cuba is mired in an economic crisis driven by the decline in tourism since the pandemic, the tightening of US sanctions and a centralized economic model.

The shortage of food, medicine and electricity is rampant.

Inflation has triggered the price of basic foods and the shortage of gasoline causes queues that last several hours.

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

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"We addressed the various elements of the immigration situation, we also discussed the role of the US embassy in Havana in issuing visas," Ziff said.

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

[Biden expands Title 42 at the border to expel more migrants from Cuba, Haiti and Nicaragua] 

"We don't have the status or the facilities that we had a few years ago to be able to provide nonimmigrant visas," Ziff said.

He said that when they have a normal staff and overcome the backlog of immigrant visas, they will study 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 facilitates our logistical needs for houses and personnel and visas and other items that require their help to be able to re-staff the embassy," Ziff said.

"I believe that the Cuban government is willing to help us in this important task, and we hope to return to normal operations as soon as possible."

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Meetings on migration are held twice a year and a date for the next round of talks has not yet been set.

Ziff also said that the US is "seeking a correct and pragmatic relationship with the Cuban government. There is a field of interests that we share with Cuba, with the Cuban people."

"We have a very deep disagreement with the Cuban government about its human rights policies and its lack of freedoms on the island, but at the same time we have other interests that are important to us, on which we will continue to work and that are relevant to the interests of the United States in the region," Ziff said.

Source: telemundo

All news articles on 2023-04-23

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