Nine Latin American countries sign letter urging the United States to review its policy on Cuban immigration

Nueve países de América Latina firman carta instando a EEUU a revisar su política migratoria sobre cubanos

Quito, August 29, 2016

Today (29 August), the Ecuadorian mission in Washington D. C., United States, delivered a letter signed by nine Latin American foreign ministers expressing their deep concern about the negative effects of U.S. migration policy across the region.

The letter, sent to the Secretary of State John Kerry, calls on the United States to review its immigration policy that encourages Cuban citizens to illegally migrate to the U.S and places them in vulnerable situations.

The letter is a joint initiative of nine South and Central American countries including Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama and Peru.

The foreign ministers explain in the letter that:

“The 1966 U.S. Public Law 89-732, known as the “Cuban Adjustment Act”, and the policy commonly known as “wet foot, dry foot” have encouraged a disorderly, irregular and unsafe flow of Cubans who, risking their lives, pass through our countries in order to reach the US.”

They add that this is creating a serious humanitarian crisis for Cuban citizens, with the nine Foreign ministers stating that:

“Cuban citizens risk their lives, on a daily basis, seeking to reach the United States. These people, often facing situations of extreme vulnerability, fall victim to mafias dedicated to people trafficking, sexual exploitation and collective assaults. This situation has generated a migratory crisis that is affecting our countries.”

The signatories believe that to reduce the threats faced by Cuban migrants, it is necessary to address “the main cause of the current situation”. Revising the Cuban Adjustment Act and the ‘wet foot, dry foot’ policy “would be a first step to stop the worsening of this complex situation and would form part of a final agreement to ensure orderly and regular migration in our region.”

Addressing the initiative, the Ecuadorian Foreign Minister, Guillaume Long, said:

“The fact that nine foreign ministers have signed this letter shows the strength of feeling in Latin America about how US policy is creating an immigration crisis in our region.

Encouraged by the US “wet foot, dry foot” policy, Cuban migrants often become victims of trafficking, sexual exploitation and violence. It is time for the United States to change its outdated policy for Cuban migrants, which is undermining regular and safe migration in our continent.

This policy is also discriminatory. Ecuadorian migrants often have to live for decades with the threat of deportation, whereas Cuban citizens arriving in the US have the opportunity of residency after living there for a year and after five-years of residency they can apply for obtain citizenship.

This injustice must end for everyone’s benefit.”

The joint letter ends with the Foreign Ministers calling on U.S: Secretary of State, John Kerry to attend a High Level meeting to review this issue.