MIAMI – Cubans continue to cross the southern border in record numbers. Amid a crisis on the island and the ability to get to Mexico through Nicaragua, the rise in migration is unlike any other since the 1980s.
In seven months, from October to April, close to 115,000 Cubans have been processed at the border.
In April, that number was slightly more than 35,000, drastically higher than October when it was just above 6,000.
That figure will soon break the record from 1980 when some 125,000 Cubans arrived during the Mariel Boatlift.
Immigration attorney Antonio Revilla said he has more Cuban clients than ever.
“The caseload has increased dramatically. A lot of them are scared because a lot of them did participate in the protests, the recent protests in Cuba,” Revilla said.
Revilla said Cubans have been facing similar situations as other migrants.
Cubans coming to the United States are either given what’s called an order of release on recognizance or limited parole for 10 days and up to three months, which means a lot of uncertainty for the new arrivals.
Orlando Gutierrez of the Assembly of the Cuban Resistance says the Cuban government is opening an escape valve with the hopes of alleviating internal pressure.
“The dictatorship in Cuba has learned that it can weaponize immigration to force the U.S. in the direction it wants it to go in,” Gutierrez said.
The Cuban government just approved a new penal code, which critics say is draconian and clamps down on the island’s opposition and freedom of speech.
“A step towards even more egregious human rights violations,” Gutierrez said.
As for the laws back in Cuba, if they are broken, people may end up in jail, or could even be sentenced to death.
Those laws go into effect in Cuba in three months.