Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Cubans now following Mexican route to U.S.

More Cubans are migrating to the United States, and most are following a new route through Mexico, to avoid the U.S. Coast Guard.

Unlike Mexicans, Central Americans and others heading to the United States’ border, Cubans do not have to sneak across. They walk right up to United States authorities at the border, relying on the ‘wet foot/dry foot' policy, which gives Cubans the ability to become permanent residents if they can reach American soil. Traveling through Mexico guarantees the Cubans arrive 'dry foot' that is, on land.

Statistics make it clear that Cubans now believe the route, though considerably longer, boosts their odds of reaching the U.S. Almost twice as many Cubans - 11,487 - used it last year as in 2005. During the same time, the Coast Guard intercepted just 2,861 Cubans crossing the Florida Straits. Another 4,825 eluded American authorities and applied for political asylum in the United States, according to the Coast Guard.

And Mexicans are learning from the Cubans. Falsified Cuban identity documents are flourishing, and some Mexicans are practicing Cuban accents and rehearsing dramatic stories they intend to tell U.S. Border Patrol agents about the horrors they have suffered in Havana.

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