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Federal immigration ruling is a setback for Cubans who come over the border

Migrants wait to be processed to seek asylum after crossing the border into the United States, Friday, Jan. 6, 2023, near Yuma, Ariz. President Joe Biden says the U.S. will immediately begin turning away Cubans, Haitians and Nicaraguans who cross the border from Mexico illegally. It's his boldest move yet to confront spiraling arrivals of migrants since he took office two years ago.
Gregory Bull
/
AP
Migrants wait to be processed to seek asylum after crossing the border into the United States, Friday, Jan. 6, 2023, near Yuma, Ariz.

Record numbers of Cuban migrants have been entering the U.S. over the southern border in recent years — but a new federal ruling means many of them aren’t eligible for the fast-track U.S. residency Cubans take for granted.

The 1966 Cuban Adjustment Act grants lawful residency to Cuban migrants who’ve lived in the U.S. for at least a year after entering the country legally. Few if any other migrant groups enjoy that privilege.

But it’s that last part — legal entry — that’s at the crux of a U.S. Board of Immigration Appeals ruling issued Monday that will be a blow to thousands of recently arrived Cubans.

READ MORE: Cuban migrants are hoiping for wet foot-dry foot 2.0. Are other migrant groups, too?

Hundreds of thousands of Cubans, desperate to flee their communist island's political repression and economic disaster, have recently come to the U.S. — not by raft at sea but by foot on land, across the southern border. And when the arrive, many have requested asylum using what’s called an I-220A form.

But being allowed into the U.S. under that asylum-seeking status does not technically constitute legal entry. As a result, those Cubans have often been denied humanitarian parole, or legal entry status, and are therefore not eligible for the Adjustment Act.

Last year, immigration advocates petitioned to have the I-220A status recognized as legal entry. But the immigration appeals board has now rejected that argument.

Tim Padgett is the Americas Editor for WLRN, covering Latin America, the Caribbean and their key relationship with South Florida. Contact Tim at tpadgett@wlrnnews.org
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