Last week we mentioned that Raul Castro changed the requirements for Cuban citizens to leave the country, ostensibly making it easier for Cubans to reunite with their family members in Pennsylvania. What we failed to mention, however, is that any Cuban who lands on American soil has the opportunity to adjust his or her status to that of a permanent resident. This is much different than citizens of any other country, as evidenced by the number of deportations of people who simply did not have the legal ability to be in the country.
Perhaps in light of this adjustment status, there has been an increasing number of Cubans entering the United States from Mexico. In fact, this past year has seen a 400 percent increase in the number of Cubans coming through Mexico than in 2011. By the end of the year, it is expected that 3,500 Cubans will enter the United States.
For Cubans to get to Mexico, they often have to travel from Ecuador. Because Ecuador does not require a visa for Cubans, they are able to get there much more easily than any other country in Latin America. From Ecuador, they travel north and eventually get to Mexico. Much of the time, these immigrants are detained by Mexican authorities, and 90 percent of undocumented Cuban immigrants are detained in the Mexican state bordering Guatemala.
Though they are detained, they are hardly ever deported back to Cuba. Once Mexican authorities determine they are Cubans and that they do not have the legal right to be in Mexico, the authorities generally release them. One of the reasons why they are not sent back to Cuba is that Cuba will not take back any of its citizens who have been outside of the country for more than 11 months.
Many people don’t believe Castro’s lifting of the exit visa requirement will do much to increase the number of Cubans traveling through Mexico and into the United States, but it is possible that there will be more Cubans reuniting with their Cuban-American relatives in Pennsylvania soon.
Source: ABC News, “Number of Cubans Entering the U.S. Through Mexico Up 400 Percent,” Esteban Roman, Oct. 19, 2012
If you want to learn more about Cuban migration to the United States, please visit the link above, but if you want to learn about what our practice does for those with green cards, please see our website.