Listening to the “Cuba Experts,” journalists, and analysts describe the “reforms” of the magnanimous Cuban dictator Raul Castro, you would think that the happy island prison of Cuba was well on its way to becoming even happier for its inhabitants. With new rules allowing self-employment and the supposed removal of travel restrictions, Cuba’s quaint natives would no longer have any viable reason for leaving.
For these pundits of the Castro dictatorship, however, reality proves them wrong once again.
Number of Cuban migrants to U.S. believed to be rising
Three months after Cuba eased its restrictions on travel abroad, a growing number of Cubans are applying for and obtaining U.S. tourist visas or arriving without visas at the border with Mexico, U.S. government officials say.
The officials caution that it’s too early to estimate the size of the increase, and add that there has been no sign of any sort of mass exodus that would add significantly to the more than 1.6 million Cubans and descendants already living in the United States.
But their comments lend credence to a string of anecdotal reports about a visibly increased flow of Cuban migrants moving through a phalanx of countries as diverse as Nigeria and Haiti — and yearning to eventually reach the United States.
A significant increase in the number of Cubans entering the United States could generate pressure to cut back on the preferential federal benefits they now receive, including permanent residence after just 366 days under the Cuban Adjustment Act.
U.S. National Intelligence Director James Clapper told a Senate hearing last month that the new migration policies adopted by Cuba on Jan. 14 had prompted “a modest boost in U.S. visas” but gave no numbers or other details.
The U.S. diplomatic mission in Havana indeed has approved a growing number of visitor visas since the Cuban change but cannot yet quantify the increase, said one U.S. government official who asked for anonymity because of her department’s rules.
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