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Cubans facing deportation await changes in US-Cuba relations

Cubans facing deportation await changes in US-Cuba relations

MIAMI (AP) — With the United States and Cuba inching closer to fully
restoring diplomatic ties, including re-opening embassies for the first
time in 54 years, the future is murky for tens of thousands of Cuban
immigrants who have been ordered by immigration authorities to leave the

As many as 25,000 Cubans living in the United States have outstanding
deportation orders, according to Immigration and Enforcement.
They include people who pose a threat to national security or have
serious criminal convictions and are considered priorities for
immigration enforcement agents.

Despite being an enforcement priority, those immigrants haven’t yet been
sent back to Cuba because the government of has
not given them permission to return. It’s unclear whether the Cuban
government’s position will change.

Sisi, a 50-year-old grandmother who moved to Miami with her family when
she was 4, is one of those waiting and wondering what the future holds.

As a teenager in the 1980s, Sisi married a man involved in South
Florida’s booming cocaine trade. By the middle of the decade she’d
become involved in the business herself and eventually served 2½ years
in , cutting ties to her brief life of crime in 1989.

Though she served her to society for the drug conviction, what she
didn’t know at the time was that her criminal record would prompt
immigration authorities to issue a deportation order in 2000.

“I was young, stupid. It’s hurting me,” said Sisi, who spoke to The
Associated Press on the condition that she only be identified by her
nickname because of her pending deportation order.

For decades deportation to Cuba has been complicated by the lack of
diplomatic ties and the Cuban government’s decision not to provide
documents for most immigrants facing deportation.

A 1984 repatriation agreement includes a list of 2,746 people who had
come to the U.S. in 1980 as part of the Mariel boatlift who should be
. The mass migration from Cuba to Florida started when
then-President announced he would allow anyone who wanted
to leave the Communist island nation. An estimated 125,000 Cubans made
the perilous trip between April and October 1980.

ICE records show that 1,999 people on that list have been sent back to
Cuba, including 1,093 since 2001. ICE is responsible for finding and
removing immigrants living in the country illegally and those who have
been ordered to leave.

More than 35,000 Cubans have outstanding deportation orders, and as of
the end of March, more than 2,300 other Cubans have open cases pending
in U.S. immigration court. ICE said of those, about 25,000 are
considered deportation priorities because of their backgrounds,
including criminal histories.

Sisi’s lawyer, Grisel Ybarra, said the Cuban community is on edge amid
the ongoing negotiations between Washington and Havana and the
uncertainty about what renewed relations will mean for immigrants.

“Everybody in Miami right now is shaking like a leaf,” Ybarra said.
“People are really worried. The Americans and the Cubans are not in bed
together, but they already have the room. It’s happening.”

Ybarra said she represents several clients who could face deportation,
including Elias, a 71-year-old retiree whose deportation was ordered in
1991. Like Sisi, Elias agreed to speak about his immigration case only
on the condition that his full name not published.

Elias said he has two drug-related convictions dating to the 1970s and
1980s. He moved to Florida in 1961, followed by other family members a
decade later after his father spent about 10 years in a Cuban prison for
being part of a union that opposed Communism. If he is forced to go back
to Cuba, he said, he would be alone in a country he would barely recognize.

“I’ve got nobody in Cuba. All my family is here. Anything that I love in
this world is here,” he said.

Though the future of migration agreements between Washington and Havana
have yet to be laid out publicly, under any circumstances the tens of
thousands of Cubans with outstanding deportation orders aren’t likely to
be quickly sent home. That’s because ICE already struggles to find and
deport immigrants living in the United States.

During the first six months of the 2015 budget year that started in
October, the agency has removed about 127,000 immigrants. If that pace
holds, ICE will deport the fewest immigrants since the middle of
President George W. Bush’s second term in 2006.

If the Cuban government does begin accepting more deportable migrants,
they would likely just be added to the ever-growing list of people who
risk being expelled from the United States if ICE can find them,
according the Migration Policy Center’s Marc Rosenblum.


Caldwell reported from Washington.


Follow Curt Anderson on Twitter at and Alicia
A. Caldwell at

Source: Cubans facing deportation await changes in US-Cuba relations –
Yahoo News –

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