As per the records from the United States Customs and Border Protection (CBP), approximately 464,197 Cubans have set foot in the US since October 2020.
Although a historic high was noted in the fiscal year 2022, the numbers were quite similar by the end of September 2023, indicating an increasing trend in recent months. This suggests that mass inflows might be rekindling.
Interestingly, the majority of Cuban migrants coming to the US are single adults. This is followed by individuals belonging to family units (FMUA). Both family units and arrivals of children, whether accompanied or not, reached their highest in 2023 since the fiscal year 2020.
Child Migrants & US Law
From October 2022 to September 2023, the US saw the arrival of 1,778 Cuban child migrants, out of which 1,395 were unaccompanied.
As per the law, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is responsible for looking after unaccompanied children. These unaccompanied minor migrants (UMM) are individuals below the age of 18 with no legal immigration status and lack a parent or legal guardian in the US.
UMMs enjoy special protection under US immigration laws and anti-human trafficking statutes. Special provisions also exist for migrant children who’ve been victims of trafficking, crimes, or have been neglected by their parents.
US Government’s Stance on Unaccompanied Minors
Unaccompanied minors will not be eligible for parole and could be handed over to the Department of Health and Human Services. The National Security Act of 2002 transitioned the care of these minors to the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR), a branch of the HHS. This move aimed to shift away from the adult detention model.Energy Monitoring Brigades Deployed in Cuba to Address Consumption “Irregularities”
The ORR manages shelters that are deemed less restrictive than detention centers. These shelters offer a variety of services, including classroom education, mental and physical health care, recreational activities, and reunification programs, ensuring a timely and safe release to family or sponsors.
Mexico: A Transit or Trap Zone?
By the close of September 2023, the Mexican Commission for Refugee Assistance (Comar) reported that a total of 12,777 Cubans sought international protection in Mexico, making them the third-largest nationality group this year.
There’s an increasing refugee crisis in Mexico, with asylum applications surpassing 100,000 in just the first eight months of the year. Predictions state that the number might exceed 150,000 by the end of 2023, an all-time high. However, the budget for Comar in 2024 is a mere 51 million pesos, a modest 1% increase from 2023, yet an 8.2% cut from 2020. In comparison, the National Institute of Migration (INM), primarily focusing on detaining and deporting migrants, has a considerably higher budget.
The Dangers of Irregular Migration
Strengthened measures against irregular migration have led to fruitless alternatives, putting migrants in perilous situations.
On October 12, 2023, Cuban migrants met with a tragic accident in Ocos, San Marcos, resulting in one fatality and 14 injuries. Another accident followed in Honduras on October 16, leaving three Cuban nationals injured.
The mounting numbers of Cuban migrants to the US and the asylum request crisis in Mexico call for effective and compassionate solutions. Record figures and rising migration flows emphasize the need for proper handling of the situation.Cuban communities have more Internet access, says Etecsa