[JURIST] The Bush administration and the US Department of Homeland Security [official website] are considering plans to change some immigration rules for Cubans with relatives living in the United States in an effort to improve the immigration [JURIST news archive] process from the island, but may also refuse visa applications for any Cuban caught illegally crossing the border. The still-incomplete changes, which may be announced later this week, mark an effort to prevent an upsurge of smuggling Cubans into the US during what the US government expects to be an exodus from Cuba [JURIST news archive] when Cuban dictator Fidel Castro [BBC profile] eventually cedes power permanently. Last week Castro temporarily ceded power to his brother [BBC report], Raul Castro, while he underwent intestinal surgery.
The plans would give Cubans awaiting visas to enter the US with family members already in the US priority over Cubans without family in the US. There are currently over 22,000 pending US visa applications from Cubans. The plan would also ease restrictions on Cuban physicians entering the US and prohibit entry for Cuban government officials connected to human rights violations. Bloomberg has more. AP has additional coverage.