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Details on the hundreds of Cuban and Haitian migrants arriving at the Florida Keys in 2023

American border agents were overwhelmed by the influx of Cuban and Haitian migrants to the Florida Keys

Since 2023, the Florida Keys have seen a steady influx of Cuban and Haitian migrants, straining federal and municipal resources. Around 500 Cubans arrived at the Florida Keys during the weekend.

Since last year, the number of people fleeing their crisis-ridden countries has been steadily rising, putting a strain on US border services on land and water. Over a hundred Haitians are also taking to the seas to reach Florida, seeking refuge from their country's economic and political turmoil.

About the influx of Cuban and Haitian migrants

The US Coast Guard has stopped over a thousand Haitian migrants at sea since October 2022, the beginning of the fiscal year 2023. If current trends continue, Haitian migrants arriving at the border in the fiscal year 2022 might surpass the all-time high of 7,175.

An unprecedented number of Cuban refugees have also arrived in Florida. Even though their legal status in the United States is uncertain, many Cubans are ready to face the risk since those who safely make it to American land are nearly always allowed to stay. They also enter on land, first taking a flight to Nicaragua and then making their way north to Mexico. A record 220,000 Cubans were detained at the US-Mexico border in the 2020–21 fiscal year.

A silhouette of people standing in a row.

How border patrol is responding to migrants' arrival

The US government cannot return Cuban migrants since diplomatic relations between the two countries are not in place. All Cubans who have been detained are freed with instructions to report to federal immigration officials. They can apply for temporary permissions like work authorization and ID cards like driving licenses and SS numbers, but not for permanent ones like residence or citizenship.

Cuban immigrants escaping political oppression are free to roam until their immigration court hearing, as required by the Cuban Adjustment Act of 1966. They can also qualify for permanent residency and citizenship. Meanwhile, despite widespread political oppression, warfare, and financial misery in Haiti, immigrants from that country are nearly always deported.

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