Sunday, March 11, 2007

U.S. speeds visas for Cuban doctors in other countries

Somehow this seems like supreme hypocrisy, that we'll accept Cuban trained doctors, but still belittle Fidel Castro's rule, but I can't put my finger on it. Or did I?
Hundreds of Cuban doctors and other medical personnel who defected in other countries have applied for fast-track entry into the United States under a 6-month-old special program, U.S. officials said.

More than 100 already have arrived in the United States under the program, and hundreds more are hiding in places such as Bolivia and Venezuela, awaiting U.S. background checks to ensure that they're medical professionals, not rights abusers or Cuban government agents.

After a slow start, the program, intended for Cuban medical personnel who defect while they're working abroad, has received so many applicants that Cuban-American activists are scrambling to assist the new arrivals. There are reports that Cuban authorities are visiting family members of doctors stationed abroad to warn them of reprisals if their relatives flee.

"It's a hugely successful program," said Emilio Gonzalez, the director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, part of the Department of Homeland Security. "The word is getting out, and obviously we get an increased number every week."

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