With revived diplomatic relations between America and Cuba, the number of Cubans immigrating to the United States has skyrocketed. During the fiscal year of 2015, the number of Cubans arriving in the country increased by more than 78% over the previous fiscal year, as more than 43,000 Cubans arrived in America at various ports of entry. In the 2014 fiscal year, only 24,000 Cuban immigrants entered into the United States.
In December of 2014, United States President Barack Obama declared that the United States would be reviving its long-severed diplomatic relations with Cuba. Extremely high levels of tensions between the two countries had dated back to 1961. Now, more Cubans than ever want to make America their home.
Ever since the United States and Cuba agreed to put aside their differences, Cubans have been flocking to the United States in massive numbers, representing one of the largest waves of immigration in recent memory. While the number of Cuban immigrants has been increasing over the past five years, the jump between 2014 and 2015 was particularly dramatic. A major spike in Cuban immigration occurred in the months following Obama’s announcement.
Law in the United States generally provides Cubans preferential treatment as immigrants. A law that is commonly nicknamed the “wet-foot, dry-foot policy” says that any Cuban citizens who reaches American soil will be permitted to enter and stay, putting them on their way to legal permanent resident status. The law was originally put into place to provide protections for refugees fleeing from the regime of Fidel Castro in the 1960s through 80s.
However, with the recent massive influx of Cuban refugees, some lawmakers want to put an end to this policy. The lawmakers say that Cuban immigrants no longer need special treatment since the relations between Cuba and the United States have improved.
Knowing that the law could be repealed any moment, Cubans are trying to get in while they still can. So far this year, the United States Coast Guard has managed to intercept 3,500 Cubans traveling to the United States by sea. While this is twice the number that the Coast Guard caught last year, most of the Cubans have successfully managed to enter into the United States.
Additionally, Cubans have been taking a new route to get to the United States. The Cubans will actually take a detour through Latin American countries in order to reach the border of the United States and Mexico. This border is easier to pass, and once the Cubans are in, they are here to stay. In fact, this year nearly two-thirds of all Cubans who immigrated into America entered through the Laredo Customs and Border Patrol entryway in Texas. More than 28,000 Cubans passed through this checkpoint this year, an increase of 82% over last year.