As reported by Reuters:
Cubans seeking to flee the communist-run island are heading in increasing numbers by sea to Central America and then making a long journey overland to reach the United States.
U.S. officials say more than 16,000 Cubans arrived without visas at the border with Mexico in the past year, the highest number in a decade.
Cuban officials have not commented on the illegal boat departures, but blame the U.S. policy for encouraging migrants to risk their lives.
Under Washington’s “wet foot, dry foot policy,” Cuban migrants who make it onto U.S. soil are allowed to remain, while those intercepted at sea are turned back.
One man, who identified himself as Ediberto, said he worked in a hospital, but undertook the dangerous journey because of poor economic conditions in Cuba.
“There is food available, but you have to have money to pay for it,” he said.
(As with many migrants headed for the U.S., this statement demonstrates an expectation to get here and take advantage of our generosity.)
Another passenger, Manuel, a farmer from Ciego de Avila, said there is dissatisfaction in the countryside, but people are afraid of Cuba’s communist government.
U.S. Coast Guard patrols have made it hard to reach the United States undetected via the Florida Strait, which separates Cuba and Florida by only 90 miles at its narrowest point.
Many Cubans now opt for the longer western route to Honduras, a trip of about 675 miles, via the Cayman Islands, which takes about 10 days.
But why Honduras versus other, closer land in Central America and Mexico?
Because Honduran authorities are giving Cuban migrants temporary visas allowing them to head north for the United States.
It is interesting to note that while immigration enforcement at our southern border has been all but absent under this administration, that hasn’t been the case with the Coast Guard and maritime immigration enforcement. One has to wonder how much “political expediency” plays into this policy difference.
As has always been the case and as demonstrated by a Fox poll prior to the 2012 elections, the majority of Latinos favor Democrats over the GOP. There is, however, one glaring exception: Cuban Americans.
While 64 percent of Mexican Americans and 67 percent of Puerto Ricans said they would vote for the Obama/Biden ticket come November, only 39 percent of the Cuban Americans polled said they would vote for the Democratic side. Overall, 55 percent of the likely Latino voters polled said they consider themselves Democrats, only 30 percent of the Cuban Americans polled said they were Democrats.
Cuban-American conservatism is strongly rooted in the anti-Castro sentiments stemming from the 1959 revolution, the botched Bay of Pigs invasion during the Kennedy administration and Republican support for the U.S. embargo against trade with Cuba. The sentiments only strengthened as Fidel Castro kept power for decades and an influential group of Cuban-American politicians –particularly in Miami– became entrenched in the Republican Party.
In 2000, when then Attorney General Janet Reno decided to forcibly remove Elian Gonzalez from his family’s Miami home, it only exacerbated Cubans’ distrust of the Democratic Party. Cubans were largely against returning Elian, who was found clinging to an inner tube along the shores of Miami, to his father in Communist Cuba.
Besides their ardent anti-Castroism, Cuban Americans have also tended to side with the Republican Party on fiscal and social matters. Immigration, for instance, is one issue that is a greater concern for other Latinos –specifically those with Mexican, Central or South American roots– than to Cuban Americans. Cuban immigrants are protected from deportation under the “wet foot, dry foot policy,” which means once they reach American shore they cannot forcibly be returned to their country.