The 1966 Cuban Adjustment Act made it that so Cubans who set foot in the United States are allowed to stay and get on a fast track to permanent residency, benefits and eventually full citizenship. This treatment differs markedly to that given to undocumented immigrants from other countries who face skepticism over their claims and are often either immediately deported or kept in detention for months or even years.
The thawing of relations between Cuba and the United States since 2014 has seen fears grow that that policy may soon be ended, resulting in a spike in Cuban immigration. The country’s busiest inland port, Laredo, has seen an increase of as much as 78 percent in the number of Cuban arrivals.
The figures are causing resentment in the city, whose population is 96 percent Hispanic, and like many border communities has experienced a surge in Central American immigrants including families and unaccompanied minors. With undocumented immigrants being threatened with deportation by several Republican Presidential candidate nominees, Cuban immigrants still being welcomed with open arms has not been well received in the community. The Democratic US Congressman in the district, Henry Cuellar, says that people just want everyone to be treated equally, without special treatment for one particular class of immigrants.
Back in 2012, the “tarjeta blanca” exit visa used in Cuba was scrapped by the government, allowing citizens to be able to travel overseas more easily than had previously been the case, but so many flew to Ecuador that that country’s government began to introduce visa requirements of its own.