Cuban Americans in Congress propose using Gitmo for family reunification program

U.S. Representatives from Florida Maria Elvira Salazar and Mario Diaz-Balart unveiled a plan to use the U.S. Naval Base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba to restart the Cuban Family Reunification Parole program.

Via Miami’s Local10 News:

Salazar and Diaz-Balart unveiled their plan to help reactivate the Cuban Family Reunification Parole Program, which was in effect with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

“We believe that Cubans and their families should be able to reunify,” Diaz-Balart said.

The CFRP allowed eligible U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents to petition for parole for their family members in Cuba. The U.S. started the program in 2007. USCIS officials have not issued invitations to participate since September 2016 and suspended the program for security reasons in 2017, according to USCIS.

Diaz-Balart and Salazar said they want to change that. They aim to cut the red tape that has entangled 22,000 Cubans who have their hopes on the CFRP program to be reunited with family in the U.S.

Without consular services in Havana, applicants had to fly to either Mexico or Guayana for interviews. Diaz-Balart and Salazar are proposing that the CFRP in-person interviews resume at the Guantanamo Bay Naval Base, also known as Gitmo.

“There is precedent for this and in Guantanamo, we can send as many consular people as we want,” Diaz-Balart said. “We can keep them secure.”

Diaz-Balart and Salazar said they expect House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other Democrats to support the legislation, which they are planning to file on Tuesday.

“Opening up Guantanamo is a fantastic idea,” Salazar said. It’s a property that belongs to the United States. It’s on the island of Cuba.”

With the U.S. embassy in Havana practically closed due to attacks on American diplomats and the communist Castro dictatorship’s refusal to take any responsibility, Salazar and Diaz-Balart see Gitmo as a viable alternative.