US program makes it easy for Cuban doctors to defect

The New York Times posted an editorial Monday about how hundreds of Cuban doctors could defect to the U.S. while they treat Ebola patients in…
US program makes it easy for Cuban doctors to defect

The “Cuban Medical Professional Parole Program” allows Cuban Doctors to easily defect to U.S. (Photo by Sophia Paris/MINUSTAH via Getty Images)

The New York Times posted an editorial Monday about how hundreds of Cuban doctors could defect to the U.S. while they treat Ebola patients in West Africa.

Cuban doctors serving in West Africa could easily apply to the “Cuban Medical Professional Parole Program.”

The program allows doctors and other Cuban health professionals working in a third country at the behest of the Cuban government to defect to the United States. Those who are accepted can be on American soil within weeks, on track to becoming U.S. citizens

SEE ALSO: More Cuban doctors deployed to Africa to fight Ebola 

The NY Times also reported that the “Cuban Medical Professional Parole Program,” enabled 1,278 Cubans to defect while on overseas assignments, a record number.

“American immigration policy should give priority to the world’s neediest refugees and persecuted people. It should not be used to exacerbate the brain drain of an adversarial nation at a time when improved relations between the two countries are a worthwhile, realistic goal,” the NY times said. “It’s incongruous for the United States to value the contributions of Cuban doctors who are sent by their government to assist in international crises like the 2010 Haiti earthquake while working to subvert that government by making defection so easy.”

Cuba’s health care system was degraded by the collapse of the Soviet Union in the early ’90s, and in recent years, the government has sent health workers to Venezuela and Brazil, in exchange for badly needed hard currency and oil. Those programs make up one of the largest sources of income for the island.

According to Cuban government figures, more than 440,000 of the island’s 11 million citizens are employed in the health sector.

SEE ALSO: World Health Organization declared Nigeria Ebola-free