How Cuba’s exodus is changing Latin America

Since 2016, hundreds of thousands of Cubans have tried to reach the United States illegally, mostly via Mexico and Central America. In March, total illegal migration through Mexico to the United States increased by…

How Cuba’s exodus is changing Latin America

Since 2016, hundreds of thousands of Cubans have tried to reach the United States illegally, mostly via Mexico and Central America. In March, total illegal migration through Mexico to the United States increased by more than 170 percent over the previous year. The total number of border apprehensions in fiscal year 2018 was the highest since 2000, with a peak of 134,330 apprehensions for October, which included an 80 percent increase from a year ago. Still, the total illegal immigration of Latin America — including Central America and Mexico — is not reaching the peak of the Latin American migrant crisis of 1990, when more than 692,000 Central American migrants entered the United States. The population of Cuba has also declined by more than 60 percent in the last 25 years.

But immigration to Mexico and the United States from Latin America could get worse this year. Reunification programs — established under the Cuban Adjustment Act in 1961 and the Central American Free Trade Agreement in 2000 — are preventing Cuba from maintaining an international refugee program. Refugees now are limited to Ecuador, Nicaragua, and El Salvador, and temporary protected status for Haitians, Hondurans, and Salvadorans was recently revoked. That means that more Mexicans will try to reach the United States, and more people will die or get caught trying, creating a new and more dangerous wave of migration.

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