Visa-less Cuban immigrants have been pouring into the United States at decade-high levels, according to a report Monday from the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS).
Ten months into Fiscal Year 2016, 46,635 visa-free Cuban immigrants have entered the United States, according to Department of Homeland Security numbers. This is already higher than the 43,154 visa-free Cubans that entered in Fiscal Year 2015. The amount of visa-less Cubans entering the United States has been skyrocketing in recent years, as of Fiscal Year 2011 less than 10,000 entered the U.S.
Cubans seeking to enter the United States take advantage of the Cuban Adjustment Act and the “wet foot, dry foot” policy, which easily gives them legal residency status and access to welfare. These policies give Cubans permanent residency status after two years and one year in the United States, respectively.
As the amount of visa-free Cubans in the U.S has increased heavily, the number of Cuban aliens deported has plummeted from more than 700 in Fiscal Year 2004 to 23 in Fiscal Year 2014. The lack of deportations is in part due to Cuba’s reluctance to take back deported aliens.
The Cuban immigrants have been making their way to the U.S through water, but they have also been immigrating to Latin American countries with the hopes of getting to Mexico and applying for asylum at the U.S. border. An August letter signed by the foreign ministers of Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama and Peru urged Secretary of State John Kerry to end current immigration policies toward Cubans.
“The 1966 U.S. Public Law 89-732 known as the ‘Cuban Adjustment Act’ and the policy commonly known as the ‘wet foot, dry foot policy’ have encouraged a disorderly, irregular, and unsafe flow of Cubans who, risking their lives, pass through our countries in order to reach the U.S,” the letter said.
The Obama administration has not made any plans regarding changing these immigration policies.