Are people being deported to Cuba?
Cuban nationals can be placed into deportation proceedings and have an order of removal entered against them. This typically happens as the result of criminal convictions. Approximately 1,000 Cubans are on a list of persons who will be sent back, if picked up by Immigration officials. This list is limited to specific cases of criminal convictions or mental illness. So far, Cuba has only agreed to take back these persons (who entered in the 1980s through the Mariel boatlift), but not anyone else. The majority of Cuban nationals who have been ordered deported will probably not be physically returned to the island national anytime soon. There are over 30,000 Cuban nationals with deportation orders who cannot be returned because of the strained relations between the U.S. and Cuba. Many are classified as aggravated felons who have already served their jail sentences. Once released, they usually end up in the custody of ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) for a very short period of time until they are released on an Order of Supervision, which is like probation. ICE, the government agency that enforces immigration laws, is responsible for the supervision. An order of supervision allows the Cuban national to be released into the community because there is no reasonable likelihood that they will be returned to Cuba. They must check in with an Immigration officer who will reevaluate whether they should go home or stay inside of the U.S. This review usually occurs every three or four months. Each time the foreign national goes to check in, there is only the smallest probability they will be detained and deported. Those with deportation orders who were released on supervision can only work or get a driver’s license if they apply for work authorization.
Although deportation is not likely, a Cuban national in proceedings should still seek zealous representation by an experienced Immigration Attorney. Avoiding an order of deportation will avoid supervision by ICE. More importantly, foreign nationals will have peace of mind that a new government in Cuba will not result in their separation from family inside of the U.S.