Despite the barrage of applications and the difficulties in obtaining an appointment, 29,000 Cubans have benefited since last January from the parole humanitarian aid to enter the United States. The figure was given by Blas Nuñez-Neto, acting undersecretary for Border Policy and Immigration of the US Department of Homeland Security, who also announced that there will soon be new provisions for the family reunification process.
After several weeks of tension, the official said during a videoconference, “much progress” is beginning to be seen in the program, which the United States offers to the citizens of the Island, as well as to Venezuelans, Nicaraguans, and Haitians. The urgency to achieve the effectiveness of the parole It derives from the “migration challenge” represented by the border with Mexico, through which many Latin American citizens, including Cubans, are still trying to enter.
However, Nuñez-Neto was cautious when it came to making predictions about the success of the program in the future: “It is too early to draw definitive conclusions or predict what will happen in the coming weeks,” he warned.
A recent report by CBS News, based on internal documents from the Department of Homeland Security to which they had access, indicated that there were more than 380,000 applications to sponsor Cubans stalled at the end of last April. In just four months, 1.5 million petitions to sponsor citizens of Venezuela, Haiti, Nicaragua and Cuba had reached immigration offices.
The situation was, clearly, an uncontrollable “avalanche” of procedures, complained the USCIS social workers, whose management already exceeds the possibilities of the institution
The situation was, by all accounts, an uncontrollable “avalanche” of procedures, complained the social workers of USCIS (US Citizenship and Immigration Services), whose management is already beyond the possibilities of the institution. With a capacity to handle 30,000 monthly permits, they are receiving an average of 120,000 requests daily. In the first quarter, more than 580,000 petitions for Haitians, 120,000 for Venezuelans and more than 20,000 for Nicaraguans have been accumulated, in addition to those already mentioned for Cubans.
In addition, the volume of applicants to sponsor a parole humanitarian aid is much larger than expected and calls into question the sustainability of the program, since the times to process the documentation have increased and migrants can return to the illegal route.
Regarding family reunification, the official admitted the notable delay in the procedures at the US Embassy in Havana, which spent almost four years with the consular services semi-paralyzed and subjected to the fluctuations of relations between Cuba and the United States .
The program is giving results in what is its first objective, said Nuñez-Neto: to stop the migratory flow on the border with Mexico, especially after the elimination -on May 12- of Title 42, which facilitated the immediate expulsion of people from US territory under sanitary arguments in times of covid.
The reduction, of 70%, has been significant, explained the undersecretary: from the entrance of 11,000 people a day, it has gone down to only 4,000. However, he warned against “coyotes and traffickers” who continue to spread “rumors” as bait to negotiate with migrants.
Nuñez-Neto also recalled that in the 2021-2022 fiscal year (from October 1 to September 30) there were 224,000 Cubans who entered the US through the Mexican border, not counting the 6,182 who tried to arrive by sea. In December 2022, one month before the program of parole and at the most critical moment of the exodus, the number was 44,064.
The program has not been without controversy and may be repealed in the future. A lawsuit filed by 20 red states, led by Texas, argues that the government is abusing its powers. The judgment that will decide the future of the parole humanitarian will be held on June 13 at the federal court in Victoria, Texas.
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