When most Americans think of large numbers of Cuban migrants leaving the island nation, they picture rafts and boats headed towards the Florida Keys. However, this new exodus finds hundreds of Cubans heading to Central America and joining those following the same migration routes heading towards the U.S.-Mexico border.
According to the Miami Herald, border entries by Cuban nationals are at their highest since 2005. The have climbed from 5,316 in 2011 to 17,459 in 2014. According to the latest figures from U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), at least 27,413 Cubans have entered through the US-Mexico border from Oct. 1, 2014, through Aug. 31, 2015. The numbers are high enough that some human rights activists in Mexico have labeled it a “migration crisis.”
Cuban immigrants detained by CBP receive different treatment than other migrants from Latin America because they are fleeing a communist country. They are afforded certain privileges under the Cuban Adjustment Act of 1966 that allows them to be granted asylum much more easily than other applicants for relief from deportation. Many Cubans who are now fleeing the island fear the US government will repeal the Cuban Adjustment Act now that diplomatic ties between the two countries are being restored.
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