Special immigration status for Cubans to stay

On Tuesday, an official from the US State Department declared that Washington is not planning to change the law that was enacted back in the days of the Cold War that grants Cubans special immigration benefits, despite the move towards normalized US relations with Cuba spurred on by President Barack Obama.

A Senate subcommittee hearing heard from the States’ Bureau of Western Affairs principal deputy assistant secretary, Francisco Palmieri, who claimed that Cuba continues to have problematic human rights and economic conditions which result in continuing large numbers of immigrants coming to the United States from the country and that there are no current plans to alter the Cuban Adjustment Act. The Cuban Adjustment Act gives Cubans benefits not afforded to the immigrants of any other country, with almost all allowed to remain in the US once they get there and eligible immediately to apply for work permits and green cards.

A number of lawmakers in the United States have been demanding that the immigration policy in regards to Cuba be reexamined in the wake of the surprise announcement in December 2014 that the US and Cuba were starting to come to an understanding and put decades of estrangement behind them.

They believe that most Cuban immigrants today are not coming to the US as refugees, but for economic reasons. The fear that the special immigration benefits for Cubans could be about to come to an end has been responsible for a surge of new Cubans trying to get to the US before it happens.