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01 September 2016

A Cuban migrant, hoping to travel north to the United States, at a temporary shelter in Costa Rica. Photo: Meridith Kohut for The New York Times

Neighbors Question Cuba Migration Policy

United States - Nine Latin American governments this week called on the United States to end its preferential immigration policy for Cubans, calling it “discriminatory” and a boon to human smuggling networks in the region, writes The New York Times in an Op-Ed.

In a rare public letter to Secretary of State John Kerry, the foreign ministers of Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama and Peru requested a high-level meeting to discuss a policy that they said is fueling the “disorderly, irregular and unsafe” migration of Cubans through their countries.

Under the policy known as “wet foot, dry foot,” Cubans who reach American soil are generally allowed to become permanent residents within one year and to apply for citizenship after six. Those apprehended at sea are turned back.

This policy was established in the 1990s, when thousands of Cubans were fleeing by boat because departures from the island by air were tightly controlled. Since 2013, when Havana lifted the exit travel permit requirement for its citizens, tens of thousands of Cubans have embarked on long journeys to the United States, often by first taking a flight to another country in the region and then making their way to Mexico’s northern border. The number of Cubans admitted to the United States has grown sharply each year since 2013. More than 125,000 have been resettled here over the past four years.

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Syrian Refugees Revive Italian Village of Camini

Italy - Mohamed al-Okla and his wife Amal fled Syria's civil war with their five children in order to resettle in Italy, reports Sonia Gallego for Al Jazeera.

Hoping for a fresh start away from the horrors of war, the family has found a place they can call home.

In stark contrast to the transitory way of life in migration centres, the small village of Camini in southern Italy has helped bring a sense of normality to the Syrian family.

"The children are happy here, and so am I," Mohamed told Al Jazeera. "Here, it's calm, tranquil, it's good. We're now living in a democratic country and, most importantly, there is peace."

While the continuous influx of refugees is seen as a concern for most European nations, the Camini community has welcomed their arrival as it has helped bring new life to the village. 

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Migration in the News

  • CNN International and Vatican Radio interviewed IOM’s Leonard Doyle on the rising numbers of migrants and refugees trying to reach Italy by sea from North Africa and possible solutions to the crisis. He highlighted the need to improve socio-economic conditions in sub-Saharan countries of origin and provide opportunities for managed, circular labour migration to allay European political fears.

  • AFP/Jiji Press and Reuters reported that Italy rescued another 1,800 migrants from the Mediterranean, bringing the number of rescues this week to 12,500.

  • NPR and Daily Sabah reported that Mediterranean crossings continue to climb to unprecedented levels, with over 10,000 migrants rescued earlier this week.

  • AFP published an overview of key developments in the European migration crisis since the highly publicized death of 3-year-old Syrian Aylan Kurdi a year ago.

  • Sydney Morning Herald and WiredGov reported on the “Mediterranean Missing” project,  which analyses Italy and Greece’s handling of the investigation, identification, burial and repatriation of migrants drowned at sea.

  • reported that Guatemalan police rescued 57 African migrants, allegedly from the DR of the Congo and Senegal, who were abandoned in a bus near the border with Honduras while trying to reach the United States.

  • EFE reported that European Parliament Human Rights Sub-Committee President Elena Valenciano has urged EU institutions and member states to do more to stop the deaths of migrants crossing the Mediterranean.

  • Phnom Penh Post reported that IOM is working the authorities to repatriate 18 trafficked Cambodian fishermen arrested when their Thai vessel was intercepted for illegally fishing in Indonesian waters.

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  • Worldbank reported that an estimated USD 582 billion was sent home by migrants to relatives in their home countries in 2015, a 2 percent decline from 2014, when the amount was USD 592 billion.

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