(CNN Spanish) — The deportation of Cuban immigrants from the United States has increased more than 2,370% since 2016, according to data of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Service of this country (ICE, for its acronym in English). What is this increase due to?
Although Cuban immigrants for years benefited in the United States from the Cuban Adjustment Act of 1966 and the “wet foot/dry foot” policy, which allowed Cubans—without a visa—who arrived in the United States to become permanent residents. However, this policy was removed by former President Barack Obama in 2017.
Since then, the numbers of deportations and encounters between Cuban nationals and people from the border patrol have been increasing.
And there is also a drastic increase in meetings between Cuban authorities and migrants. In December 2020, 2,067 encounters between border patrol agents and Cuban nationals were recorded on the US southern border; in one year the encounters increased to 7,983. An increase of 286%, according to data of the (CBP).
Speaking of the 145-kilometer trip that many Cubans make from the island to enter the United States by sea, the Coast Guard reported that in fiscal year 2021 they intercepted almost 500 Cubans, compared to 313 in fiscal year 2019 and 259 in 2018.
The drastic increase in the arrival of Cuban immigrants in the US is due to the fragile economy of the Caribbean island, which has been affected both by the pandemic and by the increase in sanctions imposed by the North American country.
The rise in illegal immigration also comes at a time when relations between the United States and Cuba are at their lowest point in years. During the Donald Trump administration, some of the harshest economic measures against Cuba in decades were enacted, and until now the Joe Biden administration has not reversed them.
Among other related factors would also be the suspension of visa services by the US embassy in Havana, this after a series of inexplicable health incidents occurred in 2017, in principle attributed to the “Havana syndrome” and that affected US diplomats. Now the Cubans have to travel to other countries to apply for a visa to visit or immigrate to the US
Carlos Fernández de Cossío, then Director General of US Affairs at the Cuban Ministry of Foreign Affairs, noted in mid-2021 that the US and Cuba had not met to discuss migration in nearly three years. “The trend is there,” he said. “The difficulties that Cuba has today it hasn’t faced in over a decade. So the recipe is there for uncontrolled migration across the ocean. Something we want to avoid, something we think we can avoid.”
With information from CNN’s Patrick Oppmann.