It is a correlation that “Cuba Experts” desperately avoid and one the media dutifully ignores, but the numbers do not lie. The one figure that provides the most accurate and telling results of dictator Raul Castro’s reforms is the record number of Cubans who are risking their lives to escape the island prison.
Record number of Cubans try to enter U.S.
The number of Cubans picked up at sea or who reached the United States has already exceeded the total for 2011.
The number of undocumented Cubans who have been intercepted at sea or reached the United States this year has increased significantly. With 3 ½ months left in the fiscal year, the number has already surpassed the previous one-year period, according to U.S. government figures.
From Oct. 1, 2011, until last week, 8,240 undocumented Cubans had been interdicted at sea or arrived at U.S. borders or airports, compared to 7,988 in all of fiscal 2011, which ran from Oct. 1, 2010, to Sept. 30, 2011.
Fiscal 2012 will wind up being the second in a row to have record growth in arrivals and interdictions. The number for fiscal 2010 was 7,050, compared to 8,113 for fiscal 2009.
The numbers include Cubans who were interdicted at sea or arrived by boat to U.S. shores as well as those who arrived at U.S. points of entry such as land borders and airports — the overwhelming majority of them coming across the border with Mexico.
El Nuevo Herald obtained the data from the U.S. Coast Guard, the Border Patrol and Customs and Border Protection. The agencies use the U.S. government fiscal year, which runs from Oct. 1 to Sept. 30 of the following year.
The categories showing the largest increases were arrivals at borders and interdictions at sea, the majority of them in the Florida Straits.
A total of 6,434 undocumented Cubans arrived at U.S. borders in the past nine months, 1,118 more than the 5,316 who arrived in all of 2011. The Coast Guard reported 931 interceptions at sea in the last nine months alone, compared to 985 in all of 2011.
Under the wet foot/dry foot policy, Cubans who set foot on U.S. territory are allowed to remain, while those who are intercepted at sea generally are returned to Cuba unless they can show a “well-grounded fear of persecution.”
Besides the undocumented arrivals, another 20,000 Cubans leave for the United States each year under an agreement between the Fidel Castro and Bill Clinton governments negotiated after the 1994 rafter crisis in an attempt to stem risky escapes aboard makeshift boats.
The increase from 2011 to 2012 pushed the overall figure to its highest level since 2008, when 16,260 undocumented Cubans arrived on U.S. territory or were intercepted at sea. The next year it plunged to 8,113.
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