According to the Pew Research Center, the number of Cubans entering the US has spiked dramatically since President Obama announced in December a new era of cooperation with the island nation. It appears some Cubans fear the US-Cuba rapprochement will lead to a normalization of immigration rules between the two nations.
Cubans received special treatment when immigrating to the US. The Cuban Adjustment Act of 1966 gives most Cubans a right to become legal permanent residents once they have reached the US and have remained for one year. Cubans are the only foreign nationals awarded this special treatment from Congress.
Based on US Customs and Border Protection data, 27,296 Cubans entered the U.S. via ports of entry during the first nine months of the just-ended 2015 fiscal year. This is a 78% increase over the same time period last year, when 15,341 Cubans entered. 2013 numbers had already increased dramatically after the Cuban government lifted travel restrictions.
From January to March 2015, the time period following US President Obama’s announcement of normalization, 9,371 Cubans entered, more than double the 4,296 who arrived during the same time period in 2014.
According to Pew, the majority of Cubans entering the country arrived through Texas. However, the largest percentage increase occurred in the Miami sector. The number of Cubans entering in Miami during the first nine months of fiscal 2015 more than doubled from the previous year, from 2,992 to 7,167.