What does it mean for Cubans seeking refuse or asylum in the US after the US Embassy reopens in Cuba

Since July 1, 2015, many Cuban citizens attempting to seek asylum or refuge in the United States have wondered, what does the reopening of the U.S. Embassy in Havana mean for them.

To explore this question, we must first look at the justification behind admitting Cuban citizens under asylum or refugee status.

Historically, any individual from another country after suffering persecution or fear that they will suffer persecution due to race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion may seek asylum or refugee status in the United States.

Cubans that have fled their home country under the Castro regime were classified as political refugees for past persecution or fear or persecution by the regime and also difference in political opinion. They have enjoyed a number of benefits that refugees from other countries do not have. For example, refugee status was almost freely given to any Cuban that has touched United States soil, known as the “wet foot, dry foot policy,” whereas refugees from other countries would have to undergo a rigorous examination before being granted asylum. Under the “wet foot, dry foot” policy, any Cuban found on United States soil will be admitted as a refugee automatically, whereas a Cuban found at sea will be sent back to their home country or a third country.

Among other things, Cubans have been able to enjoy this benefit because of the lack of diplomatic relationship with the United States and for fear that any Cuban being sent back to their country after fleeing would face persecution by the Castro regime. Without a formal diplomatic relationship, Cubans would have no legal means of entering the United States in order to seek asylum. Therefore, experts speculate that it will become increasingly difficult for the wet foot dry foot policy to survive once diplomatic relationship between Cuba and the United States is reestablished. Even if the United States does not revoke this policy on its own, Cuba may request that this policy be revoked as a show of good faith as it is offensive to any sovereignty whom the United States claims to be in a good relationship with.

In sum, Cubans will have a more difficult time seeking asylum in the United States once the diplomatic relationship between the two countries is resumed and in good standing.

Please contact Krist Qiu, Esq., a Fort Lauderdale Immigration Lawyer, to discuss your immigration situation.