Cubans streaming into U.S. before Trump can take office
Experts say the current influx will rival the previous peak in 1980.
BY FRANCO ORDONEZ TRIBUNE NEWS SERVICE
WASHINGTON — The surge of Cubans fleeing to the United States could grow
as uncertainty swirls around the island about whether Donald Trump will
end the still nascent U.S. diplomatic relations with Cuba once he
Experts say the current influx of Cubans, which is already double the
rate that existed before relations were restored at the end of 2014,
could rival the 1980 Mariel boatlift, especially if Trump fiddles with
the special privileges Cuban immigrants receive from the United States.
Trump and some Cuban-American leaders such as Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla.,
have suggested curbs on those privileges.
"Our biggest fear should be another Mariel," said Eduardo Gamarra, who
helped arriving Mariel refugees in the 1980s and now is a professor of
international relations at Florida International University. "I'm not
saying it's going to be another Mariel, but we should be prepared. The
notion of opening gave people hope. Closing doesn't give anyone hope.
Closing gives them fear."
The United States is already undergoing one of the greatest influx of
Cubans since the 1980 Mariel boatlift when Fidel Castro allowed more
than 125,000 Cubans to leave the country amid a weakened economy.
In the days since, there have been signs of anxiety among ordinary
Cubans, who lined up outside the U.S. embassy in Havana on the day after
Republican Trump defeated Democrat Hillary Clinton in the Nov. 8
presidential election. The Cuban government followed with an
announcement that the military would be conducting tactical exercises to
The death of revolutionary leader Fidel Castro a few days later and the
struggles of the Cuban economy have increased uncertainty on the island.
Groups that assist Cuban migrants such as Church World Service have made
sure they have additional places for refugees to stay if they see an
uptick in arrivals. Miami schools are ready for another "potential
influx." Between July 2015 and January 2016, Miami-Dade schools enrolled
more than 13,000 foreign-born students, most of whom were from Cuba.
Source: Cubans streaming into U.S. before Trump can take office - The
Portland Press Herald / Maine Sunday Telegram -