MIAMI – More than 36,000 Cubans have arrived in the United States across the Mexican border and at Miami International Airport during the 2015 fiscal year, which means a hike of 60 percent over the previous 12 months, Customs and Border Protection told EFE on Tuesday.
From Oct. 1, 2014, to Aug. 31, 2015, a total of 36,497 Cubans arrived, while during the 2014 fiscal year there were 22,162.
According to groups like the Migration Policy Institute, this increase is sparked by Cubans’ fear of losing their immigration privileges following the normalization of relations between the United States and Cuba.
According to CBP figures, some 27,441 Cuban immigrants entered the U.S. through El Paso and Laredo in Texas and the California city of San Diego, while another 9,056 have come to Miami.
Added to these legal immigrants are those picked up by the Coast Guard in waters of the Atlantic Ocean or that reach U.S. shores in flimsy boats and rafts, whose number also increased, in this case more than 85 percent.
Under the 1966 Cuban Adjustment Act and the “wet foot, dry foot” policy, undocumented Cubans who reach land in the U.S. can stay, while those caught at sea are almost invariably repatriated to Cuba.
U.S. President Barack Obama and Cuba’s Raul Castro met Tuesday at United Nations headquarters in New York a day after both men had talked before the General Assembly about the economic embargo on the island, which only Congress can completely eliminate.
Cuba and the United States renewed diplomatic relations on July 20 after a breach of more than 50 years.