Biden administration and Cuban officials plan to discuss migration policy in a meeting in Havana on Tuesday, the State Department confirmed, amid a major increase in the number of migrants leaving the island for the United States.
The State Department told The Associated Press that the meeting is routine, part of almost three decades of the two countries, separated by only about 100 miles of water, engaging in talks over migration policy as neighbors.
U.S. officials stopped Cubans more than 220,000 times in the past fiscal year, which ended on Sept. 30, marking a 471 percent increase from the prior fiscal year, according to data from U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
The migration is largely being fueled by economic and political hardships in Cuba, which have been worsened by an energy crisis and damage from Hurricane Ian in September.
State Department officials traveled to Cuba last Wednesday to discuss expanding consular and visa services with Cuba, according to the AP. These services have been closed since 2017.
Former President Obama tried to improve relations with Cuba during his presidency, becoming the first U.S. president to visit the island in almost 90 years in 2016 and loosening travel restrictions.
Former President Trump later increased sanctions against Cuba and oversaw a return to frostier relations.
And the Biden administration announced in September that visa processing would resume in January.
A U.S. official speaking on condition of anonymity told the AP that Cuba agreed to receive one flight of deported Cuban migrants from the U.S., which would be the first since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Biden administration officials hope they will achieve more from the discussions, the official said.