The deportation of 75 Cubans from Ecuador has led the Cuban government to criticize the immigration policies practiced by the United States again. The Cuban Ministry of Foreign Affairs released a press release acknowledging the deportations and then arguing that the current flow of Cubans illegally moving through Central America is the direct result of the special treatment given to Cubans under US immigration law, whereby any Cuban who sets foot on US soil will be allowed to stay.
The Cuban government has made similar criticisms before, notably in the November 2015 following Nicaragua’s decision to close its borders to Cubans, which resulted in Costa Rica experiencing a backlog. Although Cuba accepted the Ecuadorian immigrant refugees, the island’s repatriation policy with the US is a limited one. It is only willing to allow Cubans to come back if they are part of a repatriation agreement from 1984 covering ‘Marielitos’, who fled to the United States in a mass exodus in 1980.
There has been an increase in the number of Cubans lacking any form of US visas coming to the United States since 2009, though fewer have been removed. In the 2009 fiscal year, as many as 130 Cubans were removed but by the 2014 fiscal year that figure had fallen to just 23.
The reluctance to take back Cuba’s nationals by its government has been accompanied by an absence of political will in the US government to enforce current immigration laws.