Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Dusty foot

Really interesting article in the NYT about Cuban immigrants increasingly going through Mexico to reach the United States, which has become a multimillion dollar smuggling industry. There has been a surge of Cuba immigrants since Raúl took over (the most since 1994) and even the Cuban ambassador to Mexico is expressing concern.

U.S. immigration policy bears considerable responsibility for the Mexico route. In the wake of the 1994 crisis with Cuba, the Clinton administration created the “wet foot-dry foot” policy whereby Cubans reaching land in the U.S. would be given asylum, whereas those caught at sea would likely be returned.* Going through Mexico removes the threat of return—in fact, Cubans just need to walk up to Border Patrol and they’re golden. It’s being called “dusty foot.”

So guess what? The border fence, sensors, beefed up patrols, cameras, etc. are useless. In addition, other immigrants are trying to practice Cuban accents to trick immigration authorities, thus avoiding dangerous desert routes into the U.S.

On the Cuban side, the increased emigration suggests anxiety about the transfer of power, which contradicts the general sense of calm (noted even in the U.S. press). I’d like to see the specific reasons why people are choosing to leave now.

* You may remember the story of Cubans who reached a disused bridge in Florida last year and were returned because it wasn’t “land.”


Anonymous,  8:28 AM  

This also makes evident the discriminatory way of treating Latin immigrants. Haitians and Mexicans are not welcome but Cubans just need to put their feet on the door, literally.

Greg Weeks 8:05 AM  

Yes, but the political importance of Florida means no one (at least yet) wants to touch the issue.

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