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  • Article: No Cuban-Americans on Carnival Cruises to Cuba: An Immigration/Discrimination Lawyer’s Insight. By Bruce A. Coane

    No Cuban-Americans on Carnival Cruises to Cuba: An Immigration/Discrimination Lawyer’s Insight


    Many people are talking about the new revelation that Carnival Cruise Lines will not take Cuban-Americans on their ships to Cuba. At first blush, this appears to be discrimination, but is it really?

    While I have not studied all of the details of this issue, what I have gathered is that Carnival will not take these individuals because they are prohibited by Cuban law from doing so. This immediately reminded me of airlines who refuse to allow persons to board the airplane without a visa. It also reminded me about individuals who fly to the USA but are inadmissible. On both counts, airlines would face fines for carrying such people, plus they’d have to immediately put the person on the next flight out of the USA.

    One article I read made an analogy about refusing to allow blacks on ships going to South Africa during apartheid, but that is really an issue of race discrimination, rather than nationality discrimination which is what is going on with the Carnival-Cuba issue.

    There are many countries who won’t issue visas to people of certain nationalities. For example, Saudi Arabia will not issue visas to Israeli citizens. As such, no airline would let an Israeli citizen on a flight to Saudi Arabia. Further, other countries do not allow citizens of “enemy” countries into their country. These are not new issues, but what is new is the open door for Americans (not born in Cuba) to visit Cuba on cruise ships.

    The people of America are not accustomed to being barred from other countries, and especially when only certain Americans are barred, it seems to go against our American values. It appears that Carnival is certainly not purposefully preventing Cuban-Americans from traveling on its ships to Cuba, but rather it is just following the law. Perhaps a compromise could be that Cuban-Americans can travel on the ship, but simply not be allowed to disembark in Cuba since they do not have the necessary documents or are otherwise inadmissible under Cuban law.

    The United States has a very long list of grounds of inadmissibility, although most deal with criminals, contagious diseases, etc, and not nationality. On the other hand, certain nationalities, such as Yemen, are generally not able to easily get a visitor visa to come to the United States.

    This post originally appeared on COANE & ASSOCIATES. Reprinted with permission.

    About The Author

    Bruce Coane Bruce Coane received a Juris Doctor Degree in Law from the University of Houston in 1981, and is Board Certified in Immigration and Nationality Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. He is licensed by the Supreme Court of Texas and has been admitted to practice before the United States Supreme Court.

    The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the opinion of ILW.COM.

    Comments 1 Comment
    1. Nolan Rappaport's Avatar
      Nolan Rappaport -
      As Bruce says, Carnival Cruise Lines is just following Cuban law. I will add that Cuba has an absolute right to refuse admission to anyone it doesn't want to admit, regardless of its reasons. But if the situation offends you, you have an absolute right to cancel any plans you have to take a voyage on Carnival Cruise Lines, and you don't need a reason either.
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