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Cuban refugees continue rafting to the U.S.

Approximately 3,000 Cubans fleeing to Florida have been picked up by U.S. authorities so far in 2014, according to reports. That number has nearly doubled since 2013. Throughout the last two decades, more than 26,000 people have attempted to reach Florida by sea since the Cuban humanitarian crisis.

During the Clinton Administration, the U.S. and Cuba came to an agreement where Cubans who made it to U.S. soil were allowed to stay while anyone caught at sea would be returned to Cuba. Although some officials claim that some Cubans have abused their refugee status by making multiple visits to the communist island, congressional meetings on immigration have hardly mentioned the Cuban migration issue. Reports also indicate that new applicants have not been called since 1998 despite the U.S's initial promise of a visa to Cubans, who qualified neither for refugee nor for immigrant status.

Some scholars believe that approximately one in four Cubans have died while attempting to flee to the U.S., but an exact number is unknown due to a lack of a federal toll. Moreover, since Raul Castro assumed power after the death of Fidel Castro, Cubans who wish to leave the country are required to obtain exit visas. However, the expenses associated with a safe escape have prompted some Cubans to flee by using unsafe rafts made of spray foam and car or lawn mower engines.

In order to become a citizen of the U.S., an applicant must have lived in the U.S. for five years and have no criminal background, among other requirements. A family immigration attorney might be able to assist those who are seeking to become legal citizens by preparing the correct documentation. An attorney may also help a client understand the legal process and requirements when seeking citizenship.

Source: The Washington Post, "US sees surge in Cuban rafters aiming for Florida", August 15, 2014

Source: The Washington Post, "US sees surge in Cuban rafters aiming for Florida", August 15, 2014

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