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Jason Dzubow on Political Asylum

Cuban Exiles in Spain Coming to the U.S.

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In August, we reported that Spain and the Catholic Church had brokered a deal with the Cuban government to secure the release of dozens of Cuban political prisoners.  The Cubans were to be resettled in Spain.  The only problem: They wanted to come to the U.S., not Spain.  Now, it seems they will get their wish.

The AP reports that the Cuban dissidents will be coming to the United States where they will receive asylum:

The State Department is working to bring to the USA most of the 39 Cuban political prisoners exiled to Spain this summer... More than 100 family members would join them. [The] first case has been processed and nearly all are likely to accept the offer. [The] plan gets around a Catch-22 whereby Cubans who left the island were no longer considered in harm's way, and thus not eligible for traditional asylum requests in the U.S.

Apparently, the Cubans preferred the United States because they had family and community ties here.  While I understand the desire to resettle in a country where you have connections, this is a deal that would likely not be available to asylum seekers from other countries.  Normally, once a person has asylum in one country, he is not eligible to receive asylum in the U.S.  This case reminds us that politics (here, our dislike of the Cuban government) can play a role in the asylum system. 

I have a case similar to this, where the United Nations resettled my client as a refugee in a country where the client had no community ties or friends, no knowledge of the language or culture, and no prospects for a job.  The client came to the U.S. and is now seeking asylum here.  We'll see if the Immigration Court is as generous to my client as the State Department has been to these Cuban exiles.

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