The irregular entry of Cubans through the southern border of the United States reached a new record figure of 34,821 in April, which puts the Joe Biden administration before one of the most explosive exoduses from Cuba in six decades.
If the arrivals of Cubans by points of the Mexican border are added since the arrival of Biden to the White House, the data reflects a stampede of 15 months much higher than those that occurred in 1980 during the Mariel boatlift (125,000 people) and in the rafters’ crisis of 1994 (35,000).
For a US administration, it is the largest avalanche of irregular Cuban refugees in all of history: 145,389. The rates of Cuban refugees have grown exponentially since the beginning of Biden’s term and the announcement of a more flexible immigration policy than the one imposed by the Donald Trump administration.
The Department of Customs and Border Protection (CBP) released on Tuesday the official statistics on the arrival of immigrants to US territory, which allows an exact accounting of the estimates that The Washington Post had anticipated, at the beginning of this month. The accumulated numbers belong to fiscal year 2022 (FY2022), which began on October 1.
The data does not include the more than 2,000 Cubans intercepted at sea by the Coast Guard or captured upon arrival on the Florida coast by the Border Patrol in the same fiscal period. The number of Cubans detained in maritime operations is the highest since 2016, when the wet foot/dry foot policy was still in force.
“The unprecedented surge in irregular migration from the island, particularly across the US-Mexico border, helps explain last month’s resumption of migration talks between the two countries, as well as the sudden announcement of the relaxation of some restrictions on flights and remittances to Cuba by the Biden administration,” Professor Jorge Duany, director of the Center for Cuban Studies at Florida International University (FIU), told CiberCuba. “It is clear that the US government is trying to stop the irregular migratory movement from Cuba (and from other Latin American countries) to alleviate the migration crisis on its southern border.”
The CBP figures were published just one day after Washington announced a partial relaxation of the sanctions imposed by the Donald Trump administration on the Cuban regime. Biden’s new measures include the resumption of the Cuban Family Reunification Program and the increase in consular services at the embassy in Havana, in order to enable legal and safe emigration from the island.
But Duany believes that it remains to be seen whether the partial changes proposed this week by Washington will manage to stop, or perhaps reduce, the number of people who are leaving Cuba by clandestine means for US territory.
Although it has not been made official, on April 26, the authorities of the United States and Mexico reached an agreement to return a limited number of Cuban and Nicaraguan immigrants to Mexican territory. The ongoing initiative seeks to return up to 100 Cuban immigrants and 20 Nicaraguans daily through three high-influx border points in San Diego, California, and El Paso and Del Río, Texas.
With the figures registered in April, Cubans came to occupy fourth place among the nationalities with the most arrivals through the southern border of the United States during the current fiscal year, after Mexicans (483,030), Guatemalans (134,139) and Hondurans (117,964). ). However, for two consecutive months (March and April), Cubans have been the largest group after Mexicans.
In total, the arrivals of Cubans through the southern border since the beginning of fiscal year 2022 add up to 113,735.
Based on DHS/CBP records, these are other significant figures of irregular Cuban immigration to the United States in recent years:
35,049 Cubans arrived by land in April, adding other border points in the country.
114,916 have arrived so far in FY2022.
1,181 entered through the northern border with Canada, from checkpoints in Buffalo, Boston, Seattle and Vermont.
1,256 have been expelled under Title 42, citing pandemic restrictions.
108,056 entered after the opening of the Cuban borders and the lifting of visas, decreed by the Nicaraguan government, as of November 22.
145,389 arrived after Biden’s rise to the White House and the announcement of a more flexible immigration policy than the one imposed by the Trump administration.
210,242 have arrived through border points after the elimination of the wet foot/dry foot policy, between fiscal years 2017 and so far in 2022.
NATIONALITIES WITH THE HIGHEST IRREGULAR INCOME THROUGH THE SOUTH BORDER DURING FY2022
Mexico – 482,569
Guatemala – 134,254
Honduras – 108,003
Cuba – 113,735
Venezuela – 92,617
Nicaraguan – 91,636