U.S. Will Halt Admission of Cuba Refugees
The Reagan Administration said Friday that it will suspend the admission of Cuban immigrants to the United States in a move that virtually ends a once-promising refugee agreement with the Castro government.
About 1,000 Cubans who were issued visas since the agreement was concluded in December were immediately affected. About 300 others have already been admitted.
The State Department said the cutoff will take effect Tuesday.
The agreement would have cleared the way for the entry of up to 20,000 Cuban refugees a year, as well as 3,000 former political prisoners.
About 2,500 so-called “undesirables,” some of them prisoners and mentally ill, were to be taken back by Havana. They were among 125,000 Cubans who left the island nation in the Mariel boat lift of 1980.
Processing of Visas
Also, the agreement provided for the resumption of processing of visas in Havana despite the absence of formal relations between the two countries.
However, Cuba suspended its obligations under the agreement after the Reagan Administration began its Radio Marti broadcasts to the island, which were denounced by Havana as propaganda.
About 40 Cubans were permitted to fly to the United States, but indirectly.
The State Department said that it tried to clarify Cuba’s intentions but that “we have received no indication that Cuba is prepared to resume implementation (of the agreement) at the present time.”
Thus, the announcement said, the United States “had no choice” but to temporarily suspend visa processing.
Second Flight Prevented
Last month, even as Radio Marti went on the air, a flight of Cubans landed in Miami. But the State Department said that the Cuban government prevented a second flight nine days later.
Cuba had asked the Administration about the possibility of allowing the refugees to enter the United States through third countries. But the State Department said that this was not acceptable because the agreement called for “direct movement” between Havana and Miami.
About 400 Cubans had gone through processing and were prepared to fly to the United States, the department said. The statement expressed hope that Cuba would reverse itself “and meet again its own commitments.”
Visas were issued to 1,351 Cubans under the agreement through last Friday. Of those, about 317 had been admitted through last Monday.