In a monumental agreement that comes at a time of increased rhetoric over immigration, Mexico and five other countries in Central America have agreed to assist thousands of stranded Cuban immigrants make their way to the U.S.
A group of more than 8,000 Cubans had been stranded in Costa Rica several weeks after Nicaragua closed its borders to immigrants. In response, a coalition of Central American countries has agreed to help the Cubans fly to El Salvador and make the journey to Mexico on buses, after which they’ll have a chance to cross the border into the States.
Key Questions About the Deal
The concept of trying to get 8,000 immigrants to cross into the U.S. has naturally drawn several questions from people our side of the border.
- Why are thousands of Cubans making their way to the U.S.?
While it may seem that the group of 8,000 Cubans is an unusually large number of people trying to immigrate to America, experts say it’s consistent with a trend that first surfaced after the Obama administration decided to fix relations between the U.S. and the island nation.
A Pew Research Center report that cites U.S. Customs and Border Protection data shows that over 43,000 Cubans entered the U.S. in 2015, an increase of more than 75% compared to the previous year.
- What caused the spike in Cuban immigrants?
According to Marc Rosenblum of the Migration Policy Institute, the spike in Cuban immigrants can be traced to the following factors:
- A 2009 decision by the Obama administration to relax traveling restrictions and sending money to Cuba
- Cuba’s 2013 decision to relax departure restrictions on Cubans leaving the country
- A landmark decision by the Obama administration to restore relations with Cuba
According to Rosenblum, some Cubans believe that relations may once again sour in the near future, which is why many are leaving while things are good.
- Don’t Cuban immigrants cross the border by boat?
It’s no secret that most Cuban immigrants have crossed into the United States by boat, but that’s changed. While the U.S. Coast Guard says more Cubans are trying to enter Florida by raft, according to Rosenblum, even more are crossing the border by land.
- What will U.S. immigration officials do now?
Cuba is unique because it enjoys special privileges under The Cuban Adjustment Act of 1966, a federal law that allows Cuban immigrants, even those that arrive illegally, to receive a green card 366 days after being admitted into the United States.
Cuba is the only country to boast of such a privilege.
Immigrants from other countries have to go through a stringent screening process when claiming asylum. Cubans on the other hand, are automatically assumed to be refugees fleeing from government persecution.
The U.S. government announced last December that the administration has no plans on changing the current migration agreement with Cuba.
If you have friends or family from Cuba trying to make their way into the United States and need legal assistance, seek expert advice from the skilled immigration lawyers of Lyttle Law Firm. Call our offices at 512-215-5225 or visit our website to schedule an appointment.