The work of CWS with Cubans for more than 50 years

July 11, 2015

Church World Service is grateful for the opportunity to serve refugees and immigrants arriving from all over the world, including Cuba and Haiti.  CWS is one of two agencies responsible for providing services to Cuban Haitian Entrants in Southern Florida.  Services are provided through a federal program administered by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

Services are offered to individuals coming from Cuba after the individuals have been approved by the Department of Homeland Security. Approval is necessary to ensure that the individuals have the necessary status.

“When individuals arrive at CWS seeking services, we first need to ensure that they are enrolled in the program.  We are unable to admit individuals to the federally funded program without first doing our own due diligence in assuring that they are approved by DHS,” said CWS South Florida Director, Oscar Rivera.

The CWS office in Miami is a multi-cultural environment, where many of the staff are themselves current or since naturalized refugees from Cuba, Haiti, Columbia and elsewhere.  They understand the difficulties faced by arriving refugees as they faced these difficulties themselves.

In previous years, CWS has received additional support to accommodate the increased number of Cuban entrants seeking assistance. CWS is similarly prepared to assist all Cuban entrants who are referred to the agency by USCIS, but must continue to work within the requirements of the program.

The Cuban Haitian Entrant Program is not only located in Miami, but in other communities across the United States.  Assistance at these offices is also dependent on each local office’s capacity to assist local refugees.  Much like our office in Miami, they are tasked with assisting refugees from around the world, including Burma, Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia, Congo, Colombia and elsewhere.  With limited resources, these offices are only able to assist a certain number of refugees each year, including Cubans within the entrant program.

CWS is working with local government and homeless shelters to ensure that applicants waiting for approval from the Department of Homeland Security for services may still be supported.  We exist to serve refugees and immigrants, and continue to work with the resources available to us to assist those that we can, both in Southern Florida and around the United States.