High-Ranking Biden Administration Officials Traveling to Havana Amid Migration Crisis

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High-ranking Biden administration officials traveling to Havana amid migration crisis BY NORA GÁMEZ TORRES UPDATED NOVEMBER 07, 2022 4:36 PM A wooden Cuban migrant boat is tied to a sea wall in the Fills area of Indian Key in the Florida Keys on Friday, Oct. 12, 2022. DAVID GOODHUE/DGOODHUE@MIAMIHERALD.COM Two high-ranking Biden administration officials will travel to Havana this week to discuss migration issues, just days after survivors of a speedboat with Cuban migrants heading to the United States said the Cuban Coast Guard rammed their vessel, killing seven passengers, including a 2-year-old girl.

The trip of the State Department’s Assistant Secretary for Consular Affairs Rena Bitter and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Director Ur Mendoza Jaddou to Havana is the highest-level visit of U.S officials to the island since President Joe Biden took office, a State Department spokesperson told the Miami Herald. The State Department said both officials would discuss with their Cuban counterparts the full resumption of immigrant visa processing in early 2023 and the recent resumption of Cuban Family Reunification Parole processing at the U.S. Embassy in Havana.

“These engagements represent the continued commitment of the United States government to provide regular, safe, and orderly pathways for Cuban citizens to reunite with their family members in the United States, a key component of the 1994 Migration Accords with the Government of Cuba,” the spokesperson said. The State Department did not say the exact day Bitter will be in Havana.

She will be traveling Nov. 6-10, with stops in Georgetown, Guyana; Miami, and Havana. The agency declined to say whether the officials will be raising other issues, like the human rights situation on the island and the imprisonment of peaceful protesters, in their conversations with Cuban officials.

As operations in Georgetown wind down, the State Department said Bitter will express “appreciation” to Guyana officials “for their cooperation on consular services, including facilitating the processing of U.S. immigrant visas for Cuban nationals” since 2018. Bitter will also review U.S. passport facility operations and meet staff in Miami.

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