Trump’s Promised Deportations Could Affect 35,000 Cubans in the US
Trump’s Promised Deportations Could Affect 35,000 Cubans in the US /
14ymedio, Mario Penton
14ymedio, Mario Penton, Miami, 14 November 2016 – On Sunday, Donald
Trump promised to repatriate up to three million undocumented immigrants
who have had legal problems, to their countries of origin. This group
includes 34,525 Cubans who have a deportation order for committing
crimes and misdemeanors in the United States, along with thousands of
others now in the legal process.
That figure may even be conservative, in the opinion of Wilfredo Allen,
attorney and specialist in immigration issues. “In South Florida there
are many Cubans. Every day we have new cases of convicted people who
have a deportation order. In reality, nobody knows how many there are
because the deportations don’t take place in the absence of an agreement
with Cuba, but there are many more than 35,000.”
The vast majority of Cubans with deportation orders are awaiting an
immigration agreement between the two countries to be returned to their
country of origin, something that not even the administration of
President Barack Obama has achieved.
Cuba, along with China, Iran, Iraq, Libya and Somalia, is one of the
countries considered “recalcitrant” by the Department of Homeland
Security in rejecting the return of its deported citizens. The
president-elect himself noted, in a campaign rally in Phoenix
in September, that up to 23 countries refuse to accept the return of
their citizens expelled by the United States. “That will not happen
to me,” said the then candidate without explaining how he would force
The Immigration and Nationality Act requires the State Department to
cancel the visas of immigrants and tourists to these countries, but in
practice it has only happened once, according to The New York
Times. Allen considers it plausible that this is the mechanism that
Trump will use as leverage.
“In the end, the injured party will be the Cuban government. If it
maintains its position not to accept the deportees, a conflict could be
established with the current administration. If they accept it, it comes
to thousands of people who need to be reintegrated in the society, which
involves a considerable effort and resources, which would have
consequences on domestic politics,” he explains.
If the Trump administration opts for this measure, thousands of people
would be affected. In 2014 alone, 54,286 Cubans received tourist visas
to visit the United States, not counting the 20,000 emigrant visas
awarded by the American embassy in Havana.
In 2014 Maria Luisa Suarez received a multiple-entry visa valid for five
years, to visit her brother in Miami. Although she had planned to make
the trip just for family reasons, the opportunity to bring goods to the
island has multiplied her trips to the United States, and she now makes
a living on this clandestine trade that sustains the Cuban economy. Once
a year she takes advantage of the measure that allows Cuban citizens to
pay taxes on imports in local currency (rather than in hard currency)
and in the rest of her travels she manages to evade the controls,
bringing everything from lighter parts to shoes, coffee and clothes.
Suarez makes one or two trips a month. In addition to buying cheap in
Miami and reselling in Cuba, she is part of a network that
sends remittances to the island “without charging a penny.” She explains
she receives remittances from people’s families in the United States in
dollars, and when she arrives in Cuba she pays the families in Cuban
convertible pesos (CUC), which allows her to compete with Cadeca, the
chain the Cuban government maintains on the island to “collect” hard
“With Trump now, this is going to be difficult,” she says fearfully.
A Cuban-American businessman with investments in Cuba explained, on
condition of anonymity, that he does not believe that he will be able to
continue his business under Trump. “These migratory movements are by
agreement of both countries, but Cuba has made it known it does not want
those people,” he says.
“If Trump did this it would lead to an extreme situation in Cuba. The
country needs the United States now more than ever. In conversations far
from the microphones, Cuban officials acknowledge it,” he adds.
The Cuban-American Juan Chamizo doesn’t think things will end in a
disaster. He manages the Vedado Social Club, a project that promotes
intercultural exchanges between the two countries. “Trump is a president
who doesn’t come from politics, he comes from business and he knows how
business works,” he says.
For Chamizo, responsible for concerts such as those of the musician
Carlos Varela in Miami, the cultural exchange “is something that
benefits both parties.”
“This way Cuba has been more exposed to the world and the people have
seen what American culture is. I do not think Trump’s policy will change
that,” he added. For the manager, economic interests will eventually
Lorenzo Palomares, a constitutional lawyer and active supporter of
Donald Trump in South Florida, believes, however, that Trump’s threat is
serious. “I feel fabulous that they will be deported,” he says.
“Cuba takes the spies when they’re discovered, but it won’t take the
Medicaid thieves or the drug traffickers. Permanent residence is subject
to good behavior. If you violate the laws you have to go back to your
country,” he adds.
Palomares also agrees with the president-elect about the possibility of
eliminating the Wet Foot/Dry Foot policy, which Trump called “unfair”
last February, in an interview with the Tampa Bay Times during his campaign.
In the 12 months of the fiscal year ended September 30, more than 50,000
Cubans arrived in the United States, as confirmed to 14ymedio by the
Bureau of Customs and Border Protection, a state of affairs Palomares
“If Cuba wants anything to do with the United States, it had better
accept [the return] its citizens,” he says.
Source: Trump’s Promised Deportations Could Affect 35,000 Cubans in the
US / 14ymedio, Mario Penton – Translating Cuba –