Havana says United States has deported 117 Cuban migrants since policy shift

A man lowers the Cuban flag while standing amidst flag posts installed outside the U.S. embassy in Havana, April 16, 2016. REUTERS/Alexandre Meneghini

HAVANA, Feb. 19th (Reuters)  Havana said on Friday the United States had deported 117 migrants back to the island nation since ending its policy granting automatic residency to almost every Cuban who reached U.S. soil as part of thenormalization of relations.

Those deported included two people who were returned on Friday on the first flight chartered specifically for the deportation of Cuban migrants since the policy shift, Cuba’s ruling Communist Party newspaper Granma wrote. The earlier deportees were taken back on commercial planes or boat.

Former U.S. President Barack Obama repealed the special immigration policy for Cubans days before turning the White House over to Donald Trump.

Cuban authorities had long sought its end, arguing that the promise of U.S. residency was fuelling people-trafficking and encouraging dangerous journeys.

The move however dashed the hopes of many who had been hoping to fulfil their American Dream and left hundreds of Cubans seeking a new life stranded halfway on their journey.

Since the policy shift, more than 680 Cuban “irregular migrants” have been deported in total from various countries, Granma wrote, including more than 400 from Mexico, 117 from the Bahamas and 39 from the Cayman Islands.