283,189 Cubans Crossed to the U.S. in 2022, an Average of 775 Per Day

On December 28, 24 Cubans who were taken in a van to the U.S. were arrested. (National Institute of Migration of Mexico)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Ángel Salinas, Mexico, January 2, 2023 — Miami is the target of Rolando and his wife Yaimaris. In this region in southeastern Florida they hope to achieve a better future for their seven-year-old daughter, because on the Island “the situation gets worse every day.” This Cuban couple spent 48 hours in a detention center after crossing the border before the end of 2022.

In the last twelve months, 283,189 Cubans have been arrested crossing the border between Mexico and the U.S., on average more than 775  per day. This represents the largest wave of migration from the Island to the United States since the 1990s. In November alone, 35,849 nationals arrived on U.S. soil, according to data from the Customs and Border Protection Office.

Rolando and his family made the journey through Nicaragua, thanks to the support of their relatives who are waiting for them in Miami. “The hardest part was leaving Cuba,” he said. Since November 22, 2021, when Daniel Ortega allowed Cubans to enter without a visa, Managua has become the first stop in the journey of Cubans to reach the United States.

José Luis and Yurisleidys are another Cuban couple who are in Piedras Negras. These Havanans arrived at the border in the Mexican state of Coahuila with two acquaintances and a cousin, who is already in the United States. “My cousin crossed with several others from Nicaragua, but we couldn’t do it because Migration arrived,” the 29-year-old man told 14ymedio.

In order to reach the border, they paid $13,000 to the coyotes. “They abandon you at this point. If you want to be passed into Texas, it’s another $4,000,” said Yurisleidys, who has a sister in Florida.

The passage of migrants through Mexico is a nightmare. They face extortion from drug trafficking cartels, arbitrary detentions, fake  receipts from immigration stations, repatriations and expulsions. In April, Ramón Tejera complained that for not paying a bribe to Migration agents he was repatriated to the Island along with his wife Yairely Andreu and his daughter.

On December 28, Migration agents in the municipality of Huamantla, in the state of Tlaxcala, detained two vans in which 24 Cubans, two Salvadorans and four Nicaraguans were traveling to the U.S. The detainees were taken to a migration station, where they were given a safe-conduct pass to leave the country within 20 days.

On Monday, in the south of Mexico, 5,000 migrants from various countries, including several Cubans, demonstrated in front of the offices of the Mexican Commission for Aid to Refugees (Comar). A group entered by force and demanded a response to their request for free transit.

“We want papers to stay in Mexico legally and continue the journey to the northern border with the United States,” Yanela said. The young woman of Cuban origin said in Tapachula that the facilities had been closed for 15 days and they had to arrive on Sunday night to be taken care of, but no one approached them.

Jordi Armando, another of the Cubans who is waiting for his turn to be assisted, warned that the authorities are causing “disorder and chaos,” so if they don’t take action in the matter “this can get out of control” and end up in a tragedy. Among the group of people there are several Haitians, who he said are the most desperate.

In the face of the protests, Comar officials warned migrants that they will only care for families with children, so the other adults will have to wait their turn in line.

The number of migrants arriving in the U.S. will increase in coming days, said Father Felipe de Jesús Sánchez from Casa Indi, which is located near the Santa María Goretti Parish, in Monterrey. He mentioned to 14ymedio that there are more than 80,000 people from Nicaragua, Cuba, Venezuela, Haiti, Guatemala, Honduras, “in shelters” near the border from Tijuana to Matamoros, “waiting to cross to the United States.

On the night of December 12, a caravan with more than 1,000 irregular migrants illegally crossed to El Paso (Texas), according to Fox News journalist Bill Melugin on video. “The city of El Paso reports that the Border Patrol now has more than 5,000 migrants in custody and has released hundreds onto the streets of the city,” he stressed.

The exodus of balseros continues by sea. This Sunday, “more than 160 migrants were found in the Florida Keys,” Border Patrol Officer Walter Slosar reported on his social networks. According to details offered, there were 10 landings recorded “since midnight.”

Slosar explained that in the last 72 hours, the Border Patrol responded to a high volume of arrivals of migrants, so “there is a greater presence of law enforcement and rescue workers in the area” to prevent them from arriving in Florida.

One day before the end of 2022, there was a landing of 88 Cubans, who arrived in Florida on five rafts. Faced with the large number of balseros, the authorities decided to close Dry Tortugas National Park on Monday, in the Florida Keys, to be able to assist and rescue the rafters who are stranded on the islets.

Translated by Regina Anavy


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