Delegations from the United States and Cuba will meet today to continue discussions on the Migration Accords initiated in 1994. The immigration discussions are in keeping with the “Obama administration’s commitment to promote safe, legal, and orderly migration between Cuba and the United States,” noted U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. This marks the third time that the two countries will meet to discuss immigration since President Obama’s inauguration in 2009. The discussions had been suspended by the Bush administration in 2003 and were reinstated by the Obama administraion in July 2009.
The resumption of talks comes as the U.S. is negotiating the release of Alan Gross, a contractor for a U.S.-based global consulting firm, who has been held by Cuban authorities under charges of espionage for the past six months for allegedly distributing telecommunications equipment to dissidents in Cuba. The U.S. delegation is likely to use the meeting to press Cuban officials to release Gross. Secretary Clinton noted that Gross’s continued detention “is harming U.S.-Cuba relations,” and despite the resumption in talks, expectations are low that any significant progress will be made on the 16-year-old accords. “The migration talks have the potential to serve as a medium for resolution of the long-standing issues between the two nations,” said Paul Wander of the Inter-American Dialogue “but they are unlikely to do so because real diplomatic developments remain stymied by the fact that both countries feel as though the ball is in the other’s court.”