Citing Mexican government figures, undocumented Cubans stopped at the U.S.-Mexican border totaled 2,300 from January through August this year, more than double the 994 Cubans stopped during the same time period last year.
The increase is attributed to the easing of Cuban government restrictions on traveling abroad. This has lead to the increase in the number of Cubans trying to enter the U.S. The Miami Herald reports that "authorities estimate that roughly 13,000 got to the border undetected between Sept. 2012 and Sept. 2013."
There is apparently a reason why Cubans are trying so hard to reach American soil. We are said to have a policy called, "wet-foot-dry-foot." This means that if a Cuban is able to reach this country, and set foot on American soil, then they may stay in this country. This does not apply to those Cubans trying to come by boat. If they are stopped at sea, they are repatriated.
According to a Miami lawyer, Santiago Alpizar, President Raul Castro’s easing of travel restrictions has been one reason for the increase in people leaving the island nation, but there is another reason. The economy is foundering, and this has prompted many people to leave, too.
U.S. officials have known for almost a decade that undocumented Cubans were taking a different route to get into this country. While a boat trip of 90 miles from the island to Florida is shorter, the chance of getting stopped at sea is great because of Coast Guard patrols in the Florida Straits.
Now, with Ecuador allowing Cubans with visas entry into their country, thousands of people have used that country as a first stop on the long arduous journey to America. This involves trekking through several Central American countries, through jungles, marshes and swamps, just to reach Mexico.
The danger is not over even then. Unscrupulous smugglers prey on the families, often demanding payment for a safe trip, then leaving people stranded in the middle of nowhere to fend for themselves. The ones that reach the border still have to figure a way to cross safely. For those making it to America, the trip was worth the effort.