On February 25, President Donald Trump extended the national emergency with respect to Cuba. President Bill Clinton first declared the national emergency on March 1, 1996, after two civilian aircraft registered in the United States was shot down by the Cuban military. Both aircraft were in international waters north of Cuba when they were shot down.

In his message to Congress, Trump gives three reasons to continue the national emergency.

First, mass migration from Cuba would be detrimental to the US. Second, Cuba would not refrain from using force against American vessels like they did in 1995. Third, international relations between the US and Cuba would be damaged by American civilian vessels possibly helping a mass migration from Cuba.

It continues to be United States policy that a mass migration from Cuba would endanger the security of the United States by posing a disturbance or threatened disturbance of the international relations of the United States.  The Cuban government has not demonstrated that it will refrain from the use of excessive force against United States vessels or aircraft that may engage in memorial activities or peaceful protest north of Cuba.  Further, the unauthorized entry of United States-registered vessels into Cuban territorial waters continues to be detrimental to United States foreign policy and counter to the purpose of Executive Order 12807 of May 24, 1992, which is to ensure, among other things, safe, orderly, and legal migration.  The possibility of large-scale unauthorized entries of United States-registered vessels would disturb the international relations of the United States by facilitating a possible mass migration of Cuban nationals.

Donald Trump / “Message to the Congress on the Continuation of the National Emergency with Respect to Cuba” / The White House / February 25, 2020

The focus on the dangers of mass migration from Cuba is in line with the Trump administration’s general emphasis on restricting immigration.