Florida sees dramatic rise in number of Cuban migrants

Border Report

(NewsNation) — One factor in the increased number of migrant encounters in the U.S. is an influx of people fleeing communist regimes. That includes Cubans, who often cross over water instead of land.

Cubans fleeing the country also reach the U.S. by way of Mexico, but many seek to come by boat. Key West, the most southern part of Florida, is just 90 miles from Cuba.

South Florida has seen high numbers of Cuban migrants recently. Statistics indicate U.S. authorities stopped Cubans nearly 221,000 times in the fiscal year ended Sept. 30, a 471% increase from the year before.

In October, Cubans replaced Venezuelans as the second-largest nationality seeking to cross into the U.S. after Mexicans, extending the biggest flight from the Caribbean island to the United States since the Mariel boatlift in 1980, according to figures released late Monday. Cubans were stopped 28,848 times, up 10% from September.

The Mariel boatlift occurred when Cuba’s late president, Fidel Castro, announced those who wished to leave the country would be allowed to do so. As a result, more than 100,000 Cubans immigrated to the U.S., most of them settling in Florida.

The boatlift followed earlier waves of immigration from Cuba as Cubans fled following the revolution that brought Castro to power.

This latest mass migration is fueled by a complex mix of economic and political turmoil exacerbated by a deepening energy crisis and devastation wrought by Hurricane Ian in late September.

U.S. and Cuban officials met in Havana on Tuesday to discuss migration. While the State Department did not offer specifics on what would be discussed, it said the talks were routine and represent a continuation of a nearly 30-year engagement with Cuba on migration matters as neighboring states. 

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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