As the Trump administration's travel ban related to seven Muslim-majority countries is blocked in court, about three dozen Cuban doctors and health professionals are entering the U.S. under visas granted under a now-defunct program. Nathan Frandino reports.
The bags are packed for Cuban doctor Maykel Palacio. (SOUNDBITE) (Spanish) MAYKEL PALACIO, CUBAN MIGRANT, SAYING: "Now, the difficult moment of leaving has arrived." A difficult moment for the end of an era. Palacio is among the last Cubans granted U.S. visas through the Cuban Medical Professional Parole program... ended by President Barack Obama in January. The program - widely criticized by the Cuban government - allowed hundreds of Cuban doctors to leave their foreign mission stations for new lives in the States. Palacio and at least 34 other Cuban doctors and health professionals - visas in hand - checked in for their flights to Miami on Monday. (SOUNDBITE) (Spanish) MAYKEL PALACIO, CUBAN MIGRANT, SAYING: "After six months, we are going for our goal which is going to the United States and seeing how we can develop and get ahead." They're entering the U.S. during a tumultuous time for immigration. President Donald Trump has ordered a temporary travel ban for people from seven Muslim-majority countries, the construction of a border wall with Mexico, and a "full review" of America's foreign policy toward Cuba. He has also vowed to roll back Obama's executive actions with Cuba, though Palacios remains undeterred by Trump's promise. (SOUNDBITE) (Spanish) MAYKEL PALACIOS, CUBAN MIGRANT, SAYING: "Once we arrive, Donald Trump can be in office, it could be any president, because we're going with the desire to work, to get ahead and to achieve our dreams." A dream these Cuban doctors hope to achieve as they depart for their new lives in the United States.