The United States has sent its first deportation flight to Cuba since 2020. This comes after Cuba agreed to accept flights carrying Cubans caught at the US-Mexico border due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
A Department of Homeland Security (DHS) spokesperson stated that “On April 24th, US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) resumed normal removals processing for Cuban nationals who have received final orders of removal.
” The Cuban government confirmed the flight’s arrival, which carried 40 Cubans intercepted in boats and 83 detained at the US-Mexico border. Reuters first reported that Cuba would allow US authorities a new tool to deter Cuban border crossers.
The Biden administration adopted more restrictive border security measures in January, causing the number of Cubans and other migrants caught at the border to plummet.
However, due to the predicted lifting of COVID restrictions at the US-Mexico border on May 11th, the administration is preparing for a possible rise in illegal crossings.
US and Cuban officials recently discussed migration issues as the Biden administration braced for the end of COVID-era border restrictions that have blocked Cubans from crossing into the US from Mexico in recent months.
The US embassy in Havana resumed full immigrant visa processing and consular services in January for the first time since 2017, in a bid to stem record numbers of Cubans trying to enter the US from Mexico.
The DHS spokesperson stated that “The United States continues to encourage Cubans to use lawful processes.
” The Biden administration has also opened new legal pathways for Cubans, Haitians, and Nicaraguans crossing the US-Mexico border while expelling them back to Mexico under restrictions known as Title 42.