An increasing number of Cubans are fleeing the island to get to the United States, even as the relationship between the two nations thaws for the first time in many years. This is not because travel is becoming easier; instead, it is due to the fear that it will soon become much more difficult.
Rumors have been growing that the special immigration status given to Cuban refugees by the United States for decades may be about to come to an end, prompting an influx of Cuban immigrants into Latin America nations such as Costa Rica and Ecuador to try to reach the US over land. Ted Henken, who co-wrote Entrepreneurial Cuba: The Changing Policy Landscape, says that the massive influx of immigrants from Cuba is a real phenomenon.
“If you look at the numbers, it’s already happening,” Henken claims. “A record number of people are leaving Cuba – record by even Mariel Boatlift standards. It’s ironic because those people worried about the end of the Cuban Adjustment Act and leaving in large numbers are going to make it more likely that the Cuban Adjustment Act ends.”
The ‘wet foot, dry foot’ policy, as it is referred to, was passed back in 1966 by the Johnson administration, allowing any Cubans who make it onto US soil to remain in the country. This special status makes immigration easier for them than for other nationals.
Although the White House has not any announced any plans to end the policy, the secret nature of recent negotiations between the US and Cuba has spooked Cubans.