Cubans Flood Mexico in Bid to Reach U.S.
Migrants from island, sensing fragility of their special access to legal status in U.S., are heading to Mexico with the aim of getting to Texas quickly
Cuban migrants remonstrated with a Costa Rican immigration official at the border with Nicaragua, in Penas Blancas, Costa Rica, on Monday. Photo: Esteban Felix/Associated Press
TAPACHULA, Mexico—Cuban migrants, fearing the gate will soon close on their easy access to legal U.S. residency, have been surging by the thousands through Mexico in a bid to touch soil in southern Texas.
The surge was prompted by the detente between Washington and Havana, which restored diplomatic relations in December.
Cubans arriving on Mexico’s southern border say the change they consider most imminent is an end to the fast track to legal U.S. residency that their compatriots have enjoyed for generations. The so-called dry foot provisions of the 1966 Cuban Adjustment Act allows migrants fleeing the island who make U.S. landfall to apply for asylum and all but certainly obtain a green card in only a year.
“There are thousands more on the way behind us,” said a 38-year-old father of three who was among a dozen young Cubans who turned themselves into Mexican immigration officials last week in Tapachula, a city near the Guatemala border, to obtain papers allowing them to continue northward toward the Rio Grande.
“Everyone wants to go now while it is possible,” he said.
Cubans continue heading by raft or boat to South Florida—the U.S. Coast Guard detained nearly 3,000 of them at sea in fiscal year 2015—or near Cancún on Mexico’s Caribbean coast. But most now opt to travel by land into southern Mexico, having started their journey in Ecuador and made an arduous weekslong journey overland.
More than 28,000 Cubans requested asylum in southern Texas in the 12 months ended Sept. 30, according to the U.S. government’s count. They represented about two-thirds of all Cuban asylum seekers in that period and an 80% increase over the previous year.
The more than 9,300 Cubans who have registered with Mexican immigration officials since January to gain safe passage through the country mark an almost fivefold increase from 2014. The Cuban tide has been rising since midsummer, said Mario Madrazo, the Mexican federal official in charge of immigratio. Click here to read the entire story