Cuban migration to US skyrockets after bilateral thaw

Washington, Oct 8 (IANS/EFE) The number of Cubans migrating to the US has skyrocketed in the last few months following the re-establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries at the end of last year, according to the Pew Research Center.

According to figures submitted by US Customs and Border Protection, during the first nine months of the 2015 fiscal (October 2014 to June 2015), 27,296 Cubans entered the US, the Center said on Wednesday.

This is a 78 percent increase over the same period last year, when 15,341 Cubans entered the US and is well above the total entries recorded for the full year in 2013, 2012 and 2011.

In 2011, for example, a total of 7,759 Cubans entered the US territory — a quarter of the figure that was registered in only nine months of 2015.

The increase follows the announcement of the bilateral thaw, particularly between January and March 2015.

In these three months alone, 9,371 Cubans arrived in the US, more than double of the 4,296 that came in the same three months of 2014.

A majority of the Cubans, two-thirds, entered the US through Texas from Mexico, registering an increase of 66 percent in the entries through this sector.

However, the largest percentage increase happened in Miami, where the number of Cubans rose from 2,992 in the first nine months of fiscal year 2014 to 7,167 in the current year, marking an increase of over 100 percent.

Cubans have also migrated to the US through the San Diego (California) and Tucson (Arizona) sectors.

According to the Cuban Adjustment Act of 1966, Cubans who migrate to the US receive special treatment, under which they have greater facilities available to them than immigrants of other nationalities and who, after one year of residence in the country, can apply for permanent residence.

However, not all Cubans who hope to enter the US are able to do so, and the US Coast Guard in 2015 apprehended 2,927 of those who were trying to enter the country by sea and these were either sent back to Cuba or to third countries if they claimed persecution by the Cuban government.

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