Cubans keep trying to come to the U.S., indicating that improved diplomatic and trade relations between the two countries has done little thus far to stem Cuba’s economic woes.
5,936 Cubans have tried to get into the U.S. in fiscal year 2016, according to the U.S. Coast Guard. Out of the more than 5,000 Cubans who attempted the dangerous trip to U.S. shores, more than 1,000 succeeded.
“It’s gotten busier and busier,” U.S. Coast Guard Captain Jeff Janszen told National Public Radio (NPR). Cubans benefit from what is known as the “wet foot, dry foot” policy which means if they are caught at sea, they are sent back to Cuba but if they make it to U.S. shores, they get to stay.
Under their special immigration designation, Cubans can become U.S. residents after only a year of living in the U.S. and then move forward with an application for citizenship. Many Cubans fear that warming relations between the U.S. and Cuba will put an end to this arrangement that favors them.
“They’ve cut themselves. They’ve shot themselves,” Janszen said to NPR, explaining that Cuban migrants do this at sea in hopes of being taken to a hospital in the U.S. for treatment then getting to stay in the country. “We’ve seen them drink bleach. We’ve seen them drink gasoline. You just can’t make this stuff up” Janszen recalled.
The Obama Administration normalized ties with Cuba in December 2014. As a result of the Obama Administration’s policy decision, American tourists can now travel to Cuba and purchase all the cigars and rum they want for personal use.
President Obama traveled to Cuba in March, the first U.S. president to do so in almost 90 years.
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