For the first time since the Covid-19 pandemic, Cuba has agreed to accept an offer by the United States to have citizens caught at the US-Mexico border returned to Havana.
The US said it would charter a flight to have the Cubans deported
The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has about a dozen Cubans in custody. They failed an initial screening for asylum at the border.
According to reports, the U.S. agency is waiting until it has enough Cuban deportees to fill a plane before sending one to Havana.
During the pandemic, regular deportations of Cubans were halted however the United States continued to send home a small number of Cubans using commercial airlines.
About 1,500 Cubans were removed in the fiscal year 2020, which began on Oct. 1, 2019, the year regular deportation flights were paused, according to data from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
Politicians say the deportation flights to Cuba could “send a symbolic message to would-be migrants who typically fly to Central America and travel north to the border”.
A record 220,000 Cubans were caught at the U.S.-Mexico border in fiscal year 2022, which ended on Sept. 30.
The vast majority were released into the United States to pursue immigration cases.
Cuban media say the U.S. Coast Guard has continued to turn around migrants caught at sea and has repatriated upwards of 5,600 migrants thus far this year,