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Cuba agrees to accept U.S. deportation flights as border crossings rise

Cuba has agreed for the first time since the pandemic to accept U.S. deportation flights carrying Cubans caught at the U.S.-Mexico border, three U.S. officials told Reuters, giving U.S. authorities a new but limited tool to deter record numbers of Cuban border crossers.

Regular deportations of Cubans were halted during the COVID-19 pandemic, though the United States continued to deport a small number of Cubans via commercial airlines, a separate U.S. official told Reuters.

The resumption of ICE deportation flights to Cuba could send a symbolic message to would-be migrants who typically fly to Central America and travel north to the border. A record 220,000 Cubans were caught at the U.S.-Mexico border in fiscal year 2022, which ended on Sept. 30. The vast majority were released into the United States to pursue immigration cases.

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