US-Cuba rumours spark surge in migration

US-Cuba rumours spark surge in migration

US-Cuba rumours spark surge in migration

Talk of another huge shift in US-Cuba policy has triggered a rise in Cuban migration over the past week, said the US Coast Guard.

Cubans have allegedly been told that the 20-year-old “wet foot, dry foot” policy is being scrapped on 15 January, which has left many of them desperately trying to reach the US before the apparent deadline.

The policy, which was introduced in 1995, states that any Cuban who reaches US land, or “dry foots”, will automatically be granted asylum. But those found at sea will be sent directly back to their homeland. However, despite the apparent mad scramble to get to the US, for the policy to change, Congress would need to give it the go ahead, which is deemed unlikely.

The Coast Guard’s 7th District’s Captain Mark Fedor said that they understand when this kind of speculation gets out it escalates very quickly as people believe it and become desperate. Fedor, whose team patrols the seas around Cuba, added that it is not uncommon for them to “take to the sea” in a bid to make it to the US, but that it was very dangerous because many of the vessels were “unseaworthy”.

The Coast Guard revealed that since the announcement that the US and Cuba would renew diplomatic relations on 16 December, there had been a rise of 235 per cent of Cubans found at sea in comparison with the opening two weeks of December. Meanwhile, compared to December 2013, there was an increase of 117 per cent of migrants from Cuba found at sea.

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