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Migration Documents

Statement by the President on Cuban Immigration Policy

(White House Office of the Press Secretary, January 12, 2017)

Photo Credit: JTF | Flickr | Creative Commons

President Obama released a statement announcing the end to the "wet-foot/dry foot" policy, detailing a new plan to treat Cuban migrants "the same way we treat migrants from other countries." Cuban nationals who now enter the United States without legal permission and who do not qualify for humanitarian relief will be subject to removal consistent with standard U.S. immigration policy. The Department of Homeland Security also announced plans to end the Cuban Medical Professional Parole Program, citing the Obama Administration's plan to end preferential treatment for Cuban medical personnel.

Link to full text via the White House

Statement by Secretary Johnson on the Continued Normalization of our Migration Relationship with Cuba

(Press Office U.S. Department of Homeland Security, January 12, 2017)

Secretary Johnson of the Obama Administration explained the plan to end the "wet-foot/dry foot" policy for Cuban migrants that was adopted in the 1990s. He warned that those who attempted to enter the country illegally would be subject to removal from the United States. The Statement mentioned the Cuban government's willingness to accept those individuals who are removed from the United States and announced the end of the Cuban Medical Professional Parole program.

Link to full text via U.S. Department of Homeland Security

Joint Statement of U.S. and Cuban Governments on Migration

(U.S. Department of Homeland Security, January 12, 2017)

In the hopes of normalizing the bilateral relations between Cuba and the United States, this joint statement recognizes the need to facilitate regular, safe, and orderly migration. The United States reaffirmed its commitment to ensuring the legal migration of at least 20,000 persons annually from the Republic of Cuba, which has committed to accepting the return of certain Cuban nationals. The Joint Statement details specific framework for migration protocol, which also lists the end of the "wet foot-dry foot policy" and the end of the parole program for Cuban health care professionals.

Link to full text via U.S. Department of Homeland Security

Tension Simmers as Cubans Breeze Across U.S. Border

By Julia Preston (New York Times, February 12, 2016)

As the number of Cuban migrants entering the United States is steadily increasing, tensions between Cuban and Central American migrants are also rising. Thanks to the Cuban Adjustment Act and the associated "wet foot/dry foot" policy,Cubans who arrive in the United States are granted "parole," access to federal assistance, and a pathway to citizenship. Central American migrants who are fleeing from violence, on the other hand, face detention and deportation at the same points of entry as Cuban migrants. While calls to end the Cuban Adjustment Act have been made in Congress, there seems to be little movement towards an overhaul of the current immigration system.

Link to full text via New York Times

The Cuban Migrant Crisis

By Jonathan Blitzer (The New Yorker, January 16, 2016)

The recent influx of Cuban migrants along the Texas border reveals tensions surrounding the Cuban Adjustment Act as a policy that gives preferential treatment to Cuban migrants over other groups, like Central American migrants. The influx has also led to regional tensions, involving Latin American countries from Ecuador up through Central America and Mexico, as many Cuban migrants use this overland pass to reach amnesty in the United States instead of undertaking the uncertain journey by boat across the Florida Strait. This article explores both issues in depth, including the humanitarian dimension of these contentious issues.

Link to full text via New Yorker

A New Crisis of Cuban Migration

By William M. LeoGrande (New York Times, December 4, 2015)

LeoGrande's op-ed piece argues that "Washington's migration policy is no longer sustainable," cautioning that a crisis on the scale of the 1980 Mariel boatlift could occur if this policy is not revisited. Instead of calling for the removal of the Cuban Adjustment Act, LeoGrande calls for Obama to use executive discretion to change the "wet foot-dry foot policy" by returning to Cuba anyone who arrives in the United States illegally, while at the same time expanding the number of immigrant visas for Cubans.

Link to full text via New York Times

Scrapping The Cuban Adjustment Act

By Lissa Weinmann (World Policy Blog, July 6, 2015)

Although the U.S. and Cuba have reestablished diplomatic relations, the U.S. Congress is still influential on many issues relevant to improving bilateral relations. In particular, the article discusses the arguments for repealing the Cuban Adjustment Act, arguing that the law incites unlawful immigration and professional smuggling, and that "true political refugees" from every other country except Cuba are still required to apply for asylum in the normal way.

Law Favoring Cuban Arrivals Is Challenged

By Lizette Alvarez (New York Times, February 1, 2015)

Since the 1960s, Cubans who arrive on United States soil have been offered asylum and a path to citizenship via the Cuban Adjustment Act (CAA). With the recent opening between the two countries, however, both Congress and the Cuban government are raising doubts about the law's effectiveness or desirability. Thus far, the Obama administration has made clear its intention to maintain current immigration policies toward Cuba.

Link to full text via New York Times

Fear of Immigration Policy Change Triggers New Wave of Cuban Migrants

By Nick Miroff (Washington Post, January 27, 2015)

Following President Obama's announcement of opening to Cuba, Cuban migration to the U.S. has surged amidst fears that the long-standing preference given to Cuban immigrants under the 1966 Cuban Adjustment Act may be ended. Some of the debate rests on the travel habits of newer arrivals, that is, those Cubans who use the current system to earn money in the United States, but later return to the island to live off their savings. Whereas critics of the law consider such behavior to be an abuse of Cubans' "privileges as political refugees," proponents claim these Cubans will be "agents of change" who "spread democratic values" upon returning.

Link to full text via Washington Post

Migration Policy Reform: Cuba Gets Started, U.S. Should Follow

By Phillip Peters (Lexington Institute, December 2012)

After the Cuban government's overhaul of major travel restrictions to foreign nations, Peters encourages the United States to reexamine its own immigration policies that appear to favor migrants from Cuba. Because the previously isolated government has promised to make it easier for its citizens to leave, the author claims that the U.S. should adjust its policy towards Cuba for fiscal, economic, and security reasons.

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Cuban Migration to the U.S.: Policy and Trends

By Ruth Ellen Wasem (Congressional Research Service, June 2009)

In his presidential campaign, Obama stated he would seek to change U.S. policy by allowing unlimited family travel and remittances to Cuba, signaling to some the possibility of resuming the migration talks. In his opening speech at the Summit of the Americas on April 17, 2009, President Obama expressed the hope of "a new beginning with Cuba," specifically mentioning migration as an issue. This report provides an overview of the Obama Administration's promises and potential actions on Cuban immigration policy, and indicates that both U.S. congress members and Cuban officials have expressed support for resuming migration talks.

Link to full text via Federation of American Scientists

The Cuban Condition: Migration, Remittances, and its Diaspora

By Manuel Orozco (Inter-American Dialogue, 2009)

This study explores the phenomenon of rapid Cuban migration to the U.S. and the continued practice of sending remittances to friends and family members that remain within the closed nation. Although the cost of remitting to Cuba is the highest in Latin America, emigrants continue to send money to mitigate relatives' harsh economic conditions. This document draws on the responses from several surveys to determine the root of this practice.

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Cubans in the United States: Fact Sheet

(Pew Hispanic Center, August 2006)

Based on the information from several studies, this document offers a portrait of the of the Cuban population living within the United States. It indicates that Cuban-Americans are typically older, have more education, enjoy higher household income, and demonstrate greater rates of homeownership than other immigrants from Latin American countries. It also examines attitudinal ideology among different generations about popular issues in the United States and Cuba.

Link to the full text via Pew Hispanic Center

Text of Commissioner's Memorandum on Eligibility for Permanent Residence Under the Cuban Adjustment Act

By Doris Meissner (Immigration and Naturalization Service, April 1999)

This memorandum sets forth the immigration policy concerning the eligibility for permanent residence of immigrants who are covered under the Cuban Adjustment Act (CAA), but arrived in the U.S. at a place other than a designated port of entry. According to Meissner, CAA applicants are not considered inadmissible based on port of entry or public charge grounds so long as they meet all other eligibility requirements. The memo also reiterates Congress' intention that the CAA is "to continue in force until there is a democratic government in Cuba."

Link to full text via USCIS

U.S. Department of State Dispatch, Volume 6, Number 19, Article 5 (1995 Migration Agreement)

Bureau of Public Affairs (U.S. Department of State and the White House, May 1995)

In this agreement, the United States and Cuba build on the 1994 Migration Agreement, seeking "to address safety and humanitarian concerns and to ensure that migration between the countries is safe, legal, and orderly." It specifically provides for humanitarian parole of Cuban migrants detained at Guantánamo Bay who are eligible for admission to the United States, as well as the return to Cuba of those Cuban nationals at Guantánamo who are ineligible for admission. Both sides reaffirm their joint commitment to take steps to prevent unsafe departures from Cuba and to oppose acts of violence associated with illegal immigration.

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U.S. Department of State Dispatch, Volume 5, Number 37, Article 5 (1994 Migration Agreement)

Bureau of Public Affairs (U.S. Department of State, September 1994)

This agreement negotiated by U.S. and Cuban representatives was intended to normalize safe and legal migration between the countries in light of the 1994 balsero crisis. The U.S. establishes a policy that denies entrance to the U.S. for all Cuban migrants rescued at sea and ensures that a minimum of 20,000 Cubans may legally migrate to the U.S. each year. For its part, the Cuban government commits to "prevent unsafe departures using mainly persuasive methods." Both nations' pledge to prevent the illegal transport of persons to the U.S. and to continue to discuss the return Cuban nationals excludable from the United States.

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Current or Recent Alien Adjustment Provisions (Cuban Adjustment Act)

(U.S. Department of State, Public Law 89-732, November 1966)

This United States law describes the process by which illegal immigrants from Cuba can apply for permanent residence after one year of living in the U.S.

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