The Miami Herald reports that officials from the US and Cuba met in Havana on Thursday for their latest round of talks on migration. Delegates from the two countries, which do not have diplomatic relations, discussed bilateral migratory accords hashed out in 1994 and 1995 by which the United States must issue at least 20,000 immigrant visas per year to Cubans -- an agreement which arose after the Cuban government, which restricts its citizens’ travel out of the island, allowed some 30,000 people to make the risky passage by makeshift boat across the Florida Straits to the US in response to an ongoing economic crisis. 

The Associated Press notes that although the accords reached under the Clinton administration also require both governments to hold meetings -- usually twice a year – to work toward “safe, legal and orderly” migration, the Bush administration suspended those talks in 2003, saying they had not led to progress on issues of American interest.  They were resumed in July 2009 under the Obama administration, though they’ve been held irregularly, with a two-and-a-half year gap between meetings coming between 2011 and 2013.  A possible motive for that absence -- though the US government denies it -- is the March 2011 sentencing of USAID contractor Alan Gross to 15 years in prison for giving out Internet communications technology to members of the Jewish community on the island. 

According to Reuters, the migration talks have also touched on Gross’s ongoing imprisonment. They’ve also included the issue of the “Cuban Five," five Cuban intelligence agents who were arrested by the US in the late 90s, of whom four are still jailed. But the principal issue for the Cubans has been the United States’ “wet foot, dry foot” policy, which under the 1966 Cuban Adjustment Act made Cubans who set foot on US soil eligible for legal status and, after a year, permanent residency. "The meeting took place in a respectful environment,” the Cuban government said in a press release on Thursday. “An analysis was made of the status of compliance with the migration accords in force between both countries, including the actions taken by both parties to combat illegal migration and aliens smuggling.”