Sunday, January 25, 2015

Cuban migrant numbers spike

Cuban migrant numbers spike
lkahn@keynoter.comJanuary 24, 2015

The number of "inadmissible" Cubans arriving in the U.S. and the number
interdicted at sea and returned to the island are both spiking.

A big reason is the fear among many Cubans that wet-foot, dry-foot will
be eliminated as the U.S. and Cuba normalize relations after 55 years of
diplomatic isolation from each other. Wet-foot, dry-foot allows Cubans
who make it to the U.S. to apply for lawful citizenship residence in a year.

U.S. President Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro announced the
normalization of relations on Dec. 17.

"Definitely. There was an uptick after President Obama's announcement,"
said Peter Bermont, spokesman for U.S. Coast Guard Sector Key West. "We
understand there was a fear of the wet-foot, dry-foot policy going away,
which was not true."

But the numbers don't lie.

He said that from Dec. 17 through Thursday, Sector Key West had
interdicted 360 Cubans and returned them home. For the same period last
year, the number was 145.

Thursday morning, 11 Cuban men landed in a blue boat at Sombrero Beach
in Marathon and were processed at the U.S. Customs and Border Protection
station in Marathon.

On Dec. 29, a group of Cubans landed in a so-called chug in Marathon's
Coco Plum area. Residents said they believe 13 people were aboard, but
by the time authorities got to the landing site, the immigrants were gone.

Carlos Lazo, a Washington, D.C., spokesman for Customs and Border
Protection, said the number of Cubans making it to the U.S. --
especially through Mexico -- has skyrocketed.

The agency's Miami office, under which the Keys fall, saw 2,135
"inadmissible" Cubans illegally enter the U.S. in October, November and
December. For all of fiscal year 2014 (October 2013 through September
2014), 4,703 made it.

In October, November and December, 6,489 Cubans came through the
southwest border from Mexico. For all of the previous fiscal year, the
number was 17,459.

"They are much, much higher recently," Lazo said.

U.S. and Cuban officials have been meeting in Cuba the past few days to
iron out specifics of the new relations to address things such as
travel, cash sent to the island from the U.S. and trade. Immigration
policy is also dominating the talks.

On Jan. 16, U.S. policy on traveling to Cuba eased, with licenses no
longer needed for specific reasons for going such as educational,
journalistic and cultural. Traveling there merely for vacation remains
banned, but is now basically unenforceable.

Source: Cuban migrant numbers spike | News | KeysNet -

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