Cuba Sees Highest Outflow Since “Rafter Crisis”

Cuba’s demographic report for 2012 showed the highest level of emigrants that left the communist-ruled island since the 1994 “Rafter Crisis.”

According to the annual report, 46,662 Cubans migrated permanently last year. Not since 1994 had rates hit this level when more than 47,000 emigrated. The demographics further showed that over the past five years immigrants leaving averaged over 39,000 per year.

Last January, Cuba eased travel restrictions by extending exit visas to twenty-four months with a renewal of up to another twenty-four months without losing rights and simplified reentry.

The US State Department this week extended limits on most visitor visas for Cubans from six months to five years with allowance for multiple travel eliminating repeated fees. This change comes on the heels of a return to immigration talks with Cuba on July 17, 2013, after a two-year suspension. The Obama Administration said the extension would “enhance the free flow of information to, from, and among the Cuban people.”

Some 20,000 Cubans enter the U.S. annually through legal immigration, as well as, family members claiming “reunification.” Above that are those who manage to navigate to US shores undetected — protected by the “wet foot, dry foot” policy. Although, in 2012, some 1,300 Cubans were caught before stepping onto U.S. soil and repatriated.

Source: Reuters. Read More »

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