MIAMI — After seeking asylum in the United States at the Mexican border, Pablo Sanchez was placed in a detention center and is now facing what has become an increasingly common scenario under President Donald Trump: deportation to Cuba.
Since the end of the Obama administration, the number of Cubans deported from the U.S. has increased more than tenfold to more than 800 in the past year as the Trump administration enforces a new policy inked just days before it took over. It is also imposing its own sharp limits on who is eligible for asylum. That’s an unwelcome development for growing numbers of asylum-seeking Cubans who had long benefited from a generous U.S. approach and their government’s unwillingness to take its people back.
For decades, Cubans fleeing the communist-governed island had for the most part enjoyed unique privileges. Even after the cold war ended, they were given a certain path to legal residence once they touched U.S. soil through the policy known as “wet foot, dry foot.”
But an agreement reached during the final days of the Obama administration ended that and required Cuba to take back citizens who receive deportation orders going forward and consider on a case-by-case basis the return of the thousands of other Cubans who had received such orders over the decades but remained in the U.S. because their country wouldn’t take them back.