Tens of thousands of Cuban immigrants living in the US are having to adjust to a harsh new reality, with many now facing the same risk of deportation as other immigrants. This follows decades of being blessed with a favored immigration status, since the Cold War.
Many Cuban immigrants feel betrayed by the Obama administration – in its last days in power, it removed the almost automatic path to US citizenship that Cubans had been offered since the 1960s when arriving on US soil, even if they had no US visas of any kind. The decision to change the policy came as part of a sudden thaw in diplomatic relations between the two countries, with Cuba also agreeing to begin accepting many of its deported citizens back to their home nation.
Several Cubans have been held in detention after routine appointments with US immigration officials. Many more fear they could be caught up in the increasing arrests of immigrants pursued by the Trump administration, or imperiled by previously forgotten deportation orders. Experts agree that whatever new policies President Donald Trump announces on Cuba, restoring the former immigration privileges is unlikely to be among them. Boston University sociology professor, Susan Eckstein, notes that Obama’s decision was consistent with Trump’s general stance on immigration.
According to officials, over 36,000 Cuban immigrants are currently faced with deportation orders. 29,000 of them have criminal convictions, but 7000 have committed no other crimes, according to Immigration and Customs Enforcement.