President Barack Obama announced adjustments to the United States' relationship with Cuba. It represents the most dramatic shift in policy since diplomatic relations crumbled with the island country over 50 years ago. According to U.S. officials who have previewed Obama's announcement, both countries may soon be opening embassies in Havana and Washington, D.C., respectively.
Cuban President Raul Castro and Barack Obama spoke for almost an hour on the phone on Tuesday to discuss the diplomatic policy shifts. Raul Castro plans to speak to his country at the same time that Obama is set to release his announcements to the United States on Wednesday.
Commerce Limitations to Be Relaxed
Officials say that the policy changes will also relax transportation and commerce limitations enforced by the United States on Cuba since the island nation's communist revolution in 1959. For over 50 years the two countries have not had any diplomatic relations and U.S. citizens have been prohibited from traveling to Cuba due to the trade embargo that the United States has enforced on the county.
The rekindling of U.S. diplomatic ties with Cuba comes after a prisoner swap. Cuba has released prisoner Alan Gross in exchange for the United States release of three Cuban prisoners. Cuba is also going to release a United States intelligence agent whom they have imprisoned for almost 20 years.
According to one official, the United States policy shifts are happening due to the Obama administration's determination that U.S. policy on Cuba, and the transportation and trade sanctions that go along with that policy, do not work. The belief is that the policy is beyond its expiration date.
What Could It Mean for Immigration?
With changing relations between the United States and Cuba, it could mean changes to immigration policy with respect to Cuban immigrants and their family members who wish to live and work in the United States. Cuban Americans and other people from Cuba who want to know how these new policies could affect them may wish to speak with an immigration lawyer about the issue.
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