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Frequently Asked Questions: Update on U.S. Policy Toward Cuba

Release Date: 
June 16, 2017

Frequently asked questions regarding President Trump’s June 16, 2017 update on U.S. policy toward Cuba.

Q. Is there a change to the recent withdrawal of the 'wet foot, dry foot' policy?

A. Effective January 12, 2017, the United States ended the special parole policy, also known as the "wet-foot/dry-foot" policy, for Cuban migrants that has been in place since the mid-1990s. Since then, Cuban nationals who attempt to illegally enter the United States are subject to removal.

The Coast Guard's highly-trained crews aboard cutters, aircraft and small boats remain ready and continue to work with our DHS partners to stop any attempts at illegal immigration to the United States. If anyone attempts to illegally immigrate by sea the U.S. Coast Guard will stop them and repatriate them in accordance with U.S. law and international agreements.

Q. Is there an immediate impact to travelers going to Cuba for tourism or business purposes?

A. There is no immediate impact. Additional information and guidance for both business and tourism purposes is expected in the coming days.

Q: The current Cuban policy may roll back some of the previous administrations initiatives, specifically the February 2016, U.S. Departments of State and Transportation signed Civil Air Service Arrangement with Cuba’s Civil Aviation Institute and Ministry of Transportation. How will this impact TSA?

A: TSA has enjoyed a successful relationship with Cuban aviation officials since November 2010, long before the July 2015 re-establishment of diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba. We don't anticipate any impact to our interactions with Cuba. We may see more stringent controls on Americans eligible to visit Cuba. If so, that will have a direct economic impact on the air carriers and the frequency of flights. This would possibly eliminate current LPDs or and further reduce the need for more frequent FAMS missions.

In the event of policy reversal, TSA would coordinate with the Department of State (DOS), the Department of Transportation (DOT), and the Institute of Civil Aeronautics of Cuba (IACC) to ensure that security for scheduled and/or charter air service between our countries meets TSA’s requirements.

Transportation Security Administration (TSA) currently assesses all of Cuba’s Last Point of Departure airports flying into the United States, and routinely inspects all air carriers operating service to the United States to ensure compliance with the security requirements contained in their TSA-issued public charter security programs. TSA will continue to closely monitor airport operations to ensure Cuba meets all ICAO security standards.

Q: Are you comfortable with Cuba's airport security?

A: Currently, Cuba maintains the required international aviation security posture at all seven Last Point of Departure (LPD) airports.

TSA has a variety of tools to mitigate issues identified during airport or air carrier inspections. Should any anomalies or vulnerabilities be found, TSA would continue to immediately address these with Cuba and with industry stakeholders using the full range of tools and authorities available Options range from providing immediate guidance and recommendation for improvements, conducting training, recommending a Public Notice stating that the airport does not implement adequate security measures or suspending service entirely. These last two responses are generally only considered when all other attempts to improve security have failed. When a specific threat is identified, or as warranted by significant vulnerabilities, TSA may issue Security Directives (SDs) and Emergency Amendments (EAs) for implementation by air carriers at selected LPD locations. SDs are regulations issued by TSA to mitigate threats posed to transportation for U.S. airport and aircraft operators, and EAs are issued to foreign air carriers. These risk-mitigating regulations apply to all U.S. air carriers, U.S. airport operators, as well as foreign air carriers operating to, from, or within the United States.

Prior to issuing SDs and EAs, TSA works with partners and stakeholders to develop effective and appropriate regulatory language to address identified vulnerabilities and communicate these new policy requirements to foreign and domestic partners.

Additionally, TSA may issue information circulars to regulated parties to share security concerns, best practices, and other situational information.

IACC has responded favorably to every aviation security initiative proposed by TSA. The Cuban representatives associated with IACC are highly professional and eager to achieve the best security possible.

Q. How will Cubans be treated at the border?

A. U.S. Customs and Border Protection maintains a robust posture regarding the enforcement of our immigration laws along the nation’s borders and coastal areas. We continue to promote safe, legal and orderly migration from Cuba under our Migration Accords and deter dangerous and unlawful migration from Cuba.

Effective January 12, 2017, the United States ended the special parole policy, also known as the “wet-foot/dry-foot” policy, for Cuban migrants that has been in place since the mid-1990s. Since then, Cuban nationals who attempt to illegally enter the United States are subject to removal, consistent with our enforcement priorities. These actions are part of the ongoing normalization of relations between the governments of the United States and Cuba, and reflect a commitment to have a broader immigration policy in which we treat people from different countries consistently.

Cuban migrants who are apprehended between ports of entry, or who present themselves at ports of entry, are treated the same as all other similarly situated aliens from other countries.

U.S. Customs & Border Protection has policies, procedures and training in place to ensure officers and agents treat travelers and those in custody with professionalism and courtesy, while protecting the civil rights, civil liberties, and well-being of every individual with whom we interact, and maintaining the focus of our mission to protect all citizens and visitors to the United States.

Last Published Date: June 11, 2018
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