This is a fascinating exchange during today's State Department Daily Press Briefing.
Note two things:
1. State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland justifies not denying Cuban dictator Raul Castro's daughter visa saying:
"We have to follow U.S. law, and if we are going to deny visas, we have to do so under one of the stipulations in the visa law."
U.S. law (specifically Section 212(f) of the Immigration and Nationality Act) provides full authority for the State Department to deny visas to Cuban regime and Communist Party officials, hence Presidential Proclamation 5377.
2. Then, Nuland absurdly states:
"We don’t link visa policy in cases like this to our larger political and economic and human rights relationship with countries."
The President of the United States, Barack Obama, gave a speech less than a year ago linking visas to human rights.
Is State now defying the President's own policy?
Finally, kudos to the educated reporter that states the obvious at the end:
QUESTION: I know you’ve addressed this before, but now that some of the organizations are confirming that Raul Castro’s daughter is coming, can you say anything about issuing a visa?
MS. NULAND: Again, I’m not going to speak to visa issuance, but I would refer you to some of the public comments that she herself has made.
QUESTION: Hold on. No, no, no. Yeah, on this. So now that she’s spoken about it, you’re still not going to say whether you granted her a visa? We’ll just have to assume that when she shows up in San Francisco and starts speaking that she didn’t come in illegally?
MS. NULAND: I think that’ll be a fair assumption to make.
QUESTION: Okay. Well, so then you basically just confirmed that she has gotten a visa.
MS. NULAND: Again, she’s spoken about her travel plans.
QUESTION: Okay. Now, there are members of Congress who are quite irate about this, and they say that they’re outraged and appalled that the Secretary would allow not just Ms. Castro – or – I don’t remember her full name – not just her but also this Cuban Communist Party architect who’s in New York currently and another Cuban who is at least tangentially related to the government, that these people that the Secretary would approve are allowed visas for these people to be approved. Can you talk at all about what is the process you go through in determining whether someone meets the criteria that’s in the law that says that you can deny visas to members of the Cuban Communist Party, government employees, that kind of thing?
MS. NULAND: Well, first let me say that we operate in all cases in issuing visas under the Immigration and Naturalization Act, under the laws of the United States. There is no blanket restriction on the issuing of visas to Cuban citizens. In all cases, visas are issued for legitimate travel purposes in the United States, including coming for conferences, courses of study, et cetera. I can’t speak to either of these specific cases except to say that anybody who is visaed into the United States is visaed in accordance with U.S. law.
QUESTION: Okay. One of the other points that the people on the Hill – that lawmakers are making is that it’s a travesty – I think it’s their words – that these visas would be approved while Alan Gross is still incarcerated.
MS. NULAND: Again, we visa people under the Immigration and Naturalization Act, the law of the land. We don’t link visa policy in cases like this to our larger political and economic and human rights relationship with countries. It is based in U.S. law.
QUESTION: Can I ask why not? I mean, if you want to make a point to the Cubans about this one particular case, wouldn’t it make sense to say until our guy, who has been – who you say has been – done nothing wrong and has been unjustly imprisoned --
MS. NULAND: Again, these are --
QUESTION: -- that until he is released that we’re not going to grant any visas? I mean, why not do that?
MS. NULAND: Again, U.S. visas are issued on – under laws that are passed by the U.S. Congress.
QUESTION: I understand, but the law doesn’t say --
MS. NULAND: So it is again --
QUESTION: -- that you have to grant the visa.
MS. NULAND: It is again within the purview of the Congress if it wants to change the laws under which we operate.
QUESTION: But is it not within the purview of the State Department to deny a visa for whatever reason it wants to?
MS. NULAND: No. We have to --
QUESTION: No, it’s not?
MS. NULAND: We have to operate within U.S. law.
QUESTION: So you have to give visas to Cuban Government officials to come to the States?
MS. NULAND: We have to follow U.S. law, and if we are going to deny visas, we have to do so under one of the stipulations in the visa law.
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05/13 - 05/20
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- State Violates Agreement on Regime Visas
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- Today on "From Washington al Mundo"
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- Today on "From Washington al Mundo"
- Did State Grant Visa to Dictator's Daughter?
- On This Mother's Day
- Censorship Prevails at Havana Art Festival
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