Cuba points finger at US open door policy for migrant surge

Thousands of Cubans each year try to cross into the US by land or sea. More than 46,500 Cubans have been admitted to the United States without visas in 2016 alone.

Photo by: AFP
Photo by: AFP

Cuban and Haitian migrants board a vessel to Capurgana, in the Caribbean Gulf of Uraba in north-western Colombia, to illegally cross to Panama through the jungle, on August 6, 2016.

Cuba has blamed the US’s migrant policy for a surge of Cubans trying to reach the United States by land and sea, accusing the Obama administration of encouraging illegal and unsafe immigration.

Thousands of Cubans over the last two years have flocked to the US-Mexican border and taken to the sea. These migrants are trying to reach Florida, fearing a growing detente between the Cold War foes will lead to a change in US policy.

Under the Cuban Adjustment Act 1966, the Communist-run country's citizens are treated as legal immigrants if they set foot on US soil. Migrants from any other land are considered illegal.

Colombia deports Cubans

A statement by the Cuban government announced the arrival of 14 Cubans deported by Colombia, said they were the "victims of the politicisation of the migration issue by the US government which stimulates illegal and unsafe immigration."

The government said its citizens "receive differential treatment... they are immediately and automatically admitted... including if they arrived by illegal means."

Cuban migrants help to carry a child as they climb down a slope crossing the border from Colombia through the jungle into La Miel, in the province of Guna Yala, Panama, on December 1, 2015.

The statement said the policy contradicted normalisation efforts.

Colombia last week announced that more than 1,000 Cubans who got stuck in the country on their way the United States would be deported.

Colombia is just the latest government to crack down on Cubans who legally arrive in the region and then illegally, often with the help of human smugglers, pass through their territory on the way to the Mexican border.

Exodus to the US

A Pew Research Center report released on Sunday said that during the first 10 months of fiscal 2016 more than 46,500 Cubans had arrived and admitted to the United States without visas, compared with more than 43,000 in 2015 and just over 24,000 in 2014.

As the long trek through the region becomes more difficult and costly, more Cubans may take to the sea.

The US Coast Guard on Saturday reported that since October 1, at least 5,786 Cubans who have tried to migrate to the southeastern United States by sea have been intercepted, compared with 4,473 in federal fiscal year 2015.

TRTWorld and agencies