Since the weekend, over 500 Cuban refugees have washed up on the shores of the Florida Keys. These refugees are the latest in a vast and growing number of Cubans who are fleeing their nation, which is straining the capabilities of U.S. border patrol agents both on land and at sea.
Many people have killed over the years while making the perilous journey from Cuba in what are typically dilapidated boats, but more Cubans are taking the risk amid worsening and compounded political and economic issues at home. The journey is approximately 100 miles long. A lesser number of Haitians are also making their way to Florida by boat in an effort to escape the economic and political turmoil in their home nation.
How Many Cuban Immigrants Have come Ashore in the Florida keys?
The United States Coast Guard makes efforts to apprehend Cuban migrants at sea and bring them back to Cuba. Since the new fiscal year of the United States government began on October 1, 2022, over 4,200 have been stopped at sea, which is approximately 43 a day. That was a significant increase from the previous fiscal year’s rate of 17 per day and the upcoming fiscal year’s rate of barely two per day.
However, it is unknown how many people made it to the land and it is likely that they will be allowed to stay.
“I would rather die than not achieve my dream and be able to support my family.” Jeiler del Toro Diaz told the Miami Herald immediately after making landfall in Key Largo on Tuesday that the situation in Cuba is not in a very good place.
A series of seven islands located 70 miles west of Key West make up Dry Tortugas National Park. The park remained closed to visitors on Wednesday as the United States removed migrants who had come ashore in that area.
About two dozen migrants were being kept in a walled area outside of a Customs and Border Protection station in Marathon, which is located approximately 45 miles northeast of Key West. Tents had been placed in this area to provide shade for the migrants. Border Patrol agents discouraged members of the Associated Press from continuing their attempts to engage in conversation with those on the other side of the fence.
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Migration and humanitarian crisis
Sanchez stated that there is a migration and humanitarian crisis, and that it is vital for the president to respond by assisting local authorities.
Cubans are ready to take the danger because they believe that if they make it to the United States, they will almost certainly be allowed to stay there, despite the fact that their legal status is unclear. In addition, they travel by land, first flying to Nicaragua and then travelling north via Honduras and Guatemala before arriving in Mexico. A total of 220,000 Cubans were detained at the United States-Mexico border during the fiscal year 2021-2022, which is almost six times as many as the previous year.
On Wednesday, the United States of America restored visa and consular services at its embassy in Havana for the first time in Cuba after a string of unexplained health occurrences among diplomatic workers in Cuba in 2017 led to a significant decrease in the American diplomatic presence there.
According to Callan Garcia, an immigration attorney in Florida, the majority of Cubans who reach U.S. land tell Border Patrol inspectors that they can’t find enough job at home. As a result, these individuals are tagged as “expedited for removal” for entering the nation unlawfully. However, the implication that they will be eliminated rapidly or at all is false.
Due to the absence of official diplomatic relations between the United States and Cuba, the government of the United States is unable to bring them back home. Cubans are allowed to leave the country, but they are given an order that mandates them to maintain regular contact with federal immigration authorities to verify their status and residence. They are able to apply for things like driver’s licences, work permits, and Social Security numbers, but they are not permitted to apply for permanent residency or citizenship.
Garcia stated that this might persist for the remainder of their life; some Cubans who arrived in the Mariel boat lift in 1980 are still labelled as “expedited for removal.”
Garcia stated that the individuals in question “are simply sort of here with a floating order for removal that can’t be executed.”
Garcia stated that just a small fraction of Cuban immigrants tell officials of the Border Patrol that they are fleeing political persecution in order to be “pardoned.” They are allowed to remain free until their ability to present their case in front of an immigration judge in accordance with the Cuban Adjustment Act of 1966. Should their request for permanent residency be granted, they will eventually be eligible to submit an application for citizenship.
On the other hand, Haitian immigrants nearly never succeed in gaining asylum, despite the fact that political repression and violence are endemic in their home country, in addition to severe economic difficulties.
“Immigrant rights advocates have long referred to that inconsistency,” said Garcia. “That inconsistency is something that immigrant rights supporters have always pointed to.”
According to local law enforcement, there are so many individuals coming in the Florida Keys from Cuba that it could be days before federal agents are able to pick up migrants waiting on the side of U.S. 1 to be processed. This is because there are so many people.