Mario Diaz-Balart Introduces the Cuban Family Reunification Modernization Act

This week, U.S. Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, R-Fla., introduced the “Cuban Family Reunification Modernization Act” with U.S. Rep. Stephanie Murphy, D-Fla., as the main co-sponsor.

“This bipartisan bill provides a way to safely resume the processing of applicants under the Cuban Family Reunification Parole (CFRP) Program, which has been paused indefinitely due to sonic attacks on U.S. personnel in Havana,” the congressman’s office noted.

Diaz-Balart weighed in on the bill on Tuesday.

“Since the lapse of the Cuban Family Reunification Parole (CFRP) Program in 2017, thousands of innocent Cuban families have suffered the burden caused by the Cuban regime’s malfeasance and failure to protect American personnel in Cuba. For nearly four years, I have been working diligently to find a feasible solution that allows Cuban families to be reunited while also upholding the safety of our brave public servants stationed abroad,” he said.

“Today, I am introducing a bill that I know will obtain bipartisan support and potentially be signed into law. The Cuban Family Reunification Modernization Act of 2021 codifies the Cuban Family Reunification Parole Program to allow Cuban nationals to apply from within Cuba, upholds and promotes the safety of American personnel, and prohibits human rights abusers from benefiting from the parole program. In contrast to the chaos at the border, codifying this program will ensure an orderly, secure, and safe way for Cubans to have their applications processed on the island,” Diaz-Balart added.

“I thank my dear friend and co-lead of this bill, Rep. Stephanie Murphy– whose advice and thoughtful contributions were extremely insightful in producing the final product. I also want to thank Representatives Carlos Gimenez and Maria Elvira Salazar for their leadership and steadfast support. I am committed to working with my colleagues, on both sides of the aisle, to further this important legislation so that Cubans families can be reunited, and our brave public servants can continue to carry out their duties in a safe environment,” Diaz-Balart concluded.

“My parents and I were fortunate to escape a brutal communist regime and we were welcomed by this country together as a family,” said Murphy. “I’m proud to co-lead this bipartisan legislation with Congressman Diaz-Balart that will allow the federal government to use our naval base on the island to conduct interviews and background checks, helping Cuban Americans swiftly and lawfully reunite with their family members from Cuba.”

Two other Republicans representing South Florida in Congress--U.S. Reps. Carlos Gimenez and Maria Elvira Salazar–are also backing the bill.

“The Cuban people are suffering under the chokehold of socialism, families remain separated by the brutal Castro regime, and the situation is more dire than it has even been after the sonic attacks in Havana essentially shut down U.S consular services on the island,” said Salazar. “I’m proud to join my colleague Mario Diaz-Balart to introduce the bipartisan Cuban Family Reunification Modernization Act, which addresses this situation by allowing the U.S. to conduct consular services from the safety of Guantanamo Bay and ensuring the Cuban Family Reunification Parole (CFRP) program can continue to reunite Cuban-American families.”

“It’s time for the federal government to find a proper avenue for the reunification of Cuban families,” said Gimenez. “By restarting this mechanism, the United States continues to send a strong signal of support to the Cuban community and all those who seek refuge from the reprehensible conditions created by the communist Castro regime. I’m proud to join my colleagues in this effort and thank my friend Congressman Mario Diaz-Balart for taking lead. It is my hope, as it is of all my colleagues here, that one day we will see a free and democratic Cuba.”

Diaz-Balart’s office listed ten things the proposal would do:

1. Codifies the existing Cuban Family Reunification Parole program.

2. Allows U.S. citizen or permanent resident to petition to have a family member paroled into the United States.

3. This bill would authorize the Secretary of Homeland Security in consultation with the Secretary of State and the Secretary of Defense to utilize the U.S. Naval Station, Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, to conduct in-person interviews of Cuban nationals, provided that the Secretary of Defense certifies that use of the naval station for this purpose would not hinder ordinary operations or threaten national security.

4. Resumes the processing of the CFRP Program at the U.S. Naval Station, Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, for limited U.S. consular services where U.S. personnel may safely conduct the interviews necessary for Cuban Family Reunification applicants.

5. The authorization to use the U.S. Naval Station for this purpose would lapse 60 days after the U.S. government determines that other accommodations have been made to allow for the regular and timely processing of immigration petitions or applications in Cuba.

6. Those permitted to have their interviews will only be permitted on the premises if– they have already submitted an application and have an appointment.

7. This will provide the U.S. government with the ability to pre-screen those who enter and keep the daily appointments to a safe level.

8. Individuals cannot request Asylum at the U.S. Naval Station, Guantanamo Bay, Cuba – not a port of entry.

9. The U.S. Naval Station Commander may cease operating a facility for consular services if the operation and security of the U.S. Naval Station are impaired by the high number of Cuban nationals attempting to access consular services without an appointment.

10. In contrast to the chaos at the border, codifying this program will ensure an orderly, secure, and safe way for Cubans to have their applications processed on the island.

The bill was sent to the U.S. House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday. So far, there is no companion measure in the U.S. Senate.

 

Reach Kevin Derby at kevin.derby@floridadaily.com.

 

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