According to Mexican immigration records, the number of Cubans who enter the U.S. through Mexico is up by 400 percent. This year alone, 2,300 Cubans have been detained in Mexico en route to the U.S. Authorities expect this number to reach 3,500 by December, a number that has far exceeded last year’s records which only documented 762 detained Cubans.
Cubans receive different status than other foreign citizens once they reach American territory. Getting to U.S. soil can be challenging and potentially dangerous, especially when traveling by boat to Florida. Rather than travel by water, more Cubans are flying to countries that do not require a visa, including Ecuador, where they can then safely reach the U.S.-Mexico border.
Though Cuba has announced that it will no longer require exit visas, this is not likely to impact U.S. or Mexican immigration policies. Most Cubans travel to Ecuador because they can get a visa through the Ecuador embassy in Havana. Once they are in Ecuador, they can travel through Mexico to get to the U.S.
The migration pattern shift initiated in 2008 when Ecuador ended its visa requirements for Cuban nationals. Since then, Cubans have flocked; 24,000 Cuban nationals traveled to Ecuador last year alone.
Once Cubans are confirmed in Mexico they are released from detainment. Out of 2,300 Cubans detained in Mexico from 2008-2012, only 247 were deported. Cubans may continue to face complications at home and abroad. Since the reform, Cuba will not accept citizens who have been away from the island for more than 24 months. Traveling for long period of time could prevent Cubans from returning home.
Source: ABC News, “Number of Cubans Entering the U.S. Through Mexico Up 400 Percent,” Esteban Roman, Oct. 19, 2012