Monday, 22 July 2024 21:05

Increase in Cuban Arrivals in U.S. Due to Fear of Losing Immigration Benefits

Monday, 02 February 2015

MIAMI – Uncertainty over a possible change in U.S. immigration policy vis-a-vis Cuba has resulted in a marked increase in arrivals from the communist island, with Cuban migrants coming to this country on rafts, across the Mexican border or from other countries.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection told Efe on Thursday that there had been a 60 percent increase in Cuban arrivals to the United States when one compares the last quarter of 2014, when 8,624 Cubans arrived in this country, with the same period in 2013, when 5,221 people arrived from the Caribbean nation.

The CPB also said that during Fiscal Year 2013-2014, 22,162 Cubans arrived in the United States, of whom 17,459 crossed the border with Mexico and 4,703 arrived in the Miami area, which mainly includes the city’s port and airport.

To those immigrants must be added those Cubans picked up by the Coast Guard in the Atlantic Ocean or those who made landfall in boats or rafts, whose numbers increased by 117 percent to 481 last month compared with December 2013.

The head of the Democracy Movement in Miami, Ramon Saul Sanchez, told Efe that his organization had received a large increase in the number of telephone calls from people who are very scared about what is happening, or may be about to happen, in U.S. immigration policy.

Sanchez said he was alarmed by the more than 17,000 Cubans who entered this country via the Mexican border during the fiscal year ending last October, and he went on to say that the figure must be added to a “silent exodus” amounting to “some 40,000 Cubans” arriving in the United States during Fiscal Year 2012-2013.

Nelis Rojas, the head of the Presidio Politico Cubano organization, said that Cubans are “hurrying” to travel in case “the (1966) Cuban Adjustment Act is ended” along with the so-called “wet foot, dry foot” policy.

That policy establishes that Cubans who arrive on U.S. soil may remain here, while those intercepted at sea are returned to Cuba.

Sanchez said that the surprise Dec. 17 announcement by U.S. President Barack Obama that he was normalizing diplomatic relations with Cuba, broken since 1961, sparked a “wave of panic” among Cubans after rumors began circulating of immigration policy changes.

Immediately, immigration authorities came out and said that Obama’s new policy did not change current immigration laws regarding Cuba.

The CPB said that immigration authorities, including the Coast Guard, will continue to “aggressively” monitor the country’s borders and its coasts, especially in the Florida Strait and the Caribbean.

 The issues of immigration and establishing embassies in Cuba and the United States were the focus of initial talks between the two governments, the first round of which were held last week in Havana.


Latin American Herald Tribune

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