President Trump is soon expected to announce plans that could tighten restrictions on travel and trade with Cuba. Such a move would end the thaw in Cuban-American relations, begun under President Obama.
The Houston Airport System would feel the pinch first, if Trump imposes fresh travel restrictions on Cuba. United Airlines now flies one round trip between George Bush Intercontinental and Havana each Saturday. The U.S. trade embargo remains in place as a matter of law. But Houston has been poised to gain if and when that changes.
"It would take away from what we thought would be another great customer for the Port of Houston and for Texas, because of our agricultural base in West Texas and our energy base," says Democratic Congressman Gene Green.
Several of Green's Republican colleagues recently sent a letter to President Trump, arguing that reversing course on Cuba would hurt U.S. national security. Jenifer Sarver agrees. Sarver previously worked in the George W. Bush Administration. She now serves on the Texas State Council of Engage Cuba.
"Any sort of tightening of sanctions on Cuba is not going to benefit us," Sarver says. "It's only going to further isolate the island, and it's going to allow countries like Russia and China and others to influence what's happening kind of in our region of the world."
Trump is expected to announce the policy changes in Miami on Friday.