It is important to correct two errors in Lorenzo Pablo Martinez’s Sept. 11 opinion piece, A Pedro Pan recalls his journey.
First: While the United States and Cuba have renewed diplomatic relations, Cuba remains the most repressive regime in this hemisphere, and Cubans are still not free to travel wherever they choose.
Second: Most Cubans who enter the United States with the intention of staying do not apply for asylum. Under current law, it is unnecessary for a Cuban national who is already in the United States to apply for asylum — an arduous process, and subject to the discretion of judges.
Most are able to stay as a benefit of the wet foot/dry foot policy, which lets Cuban nationals who make it to our shores to remain here. Once Cuban nationals declare that they are Cuban, and can prove it, they can be paroled into the United States and receive a work permit. After one year and one day of residing here. they can apply for legal permanent residency through the Cuban Adjustment Act.
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This is different from applying for asylum. To qualify for a grant of asylum, you must be a person who has a well-founded fear of persecution on account of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group or political opinion. Each of these grounds must be proven. If the application is deemed frivolous, the applicant can forever be barred from entering the United States.
That said, Cuban nationals who want to live and work here shouldn’t procrastinate and get their papers in order. While it is true that Cuban nationals currently enjoy immigration benefits not available to others, those special benefits might soon change and even disappear. It is impossible to tell when this will happen, but since diplomatic relations have resumed, the writing is on the wall.
immigration attorney, Miami