Honduras Faces a Surge of Cubans Headed for the U.S.

By Kausha Luna on October 12, 2015

Honduran immigration offices are being inundated by an influx of illegal Cubans. Last Tuesday, alone, 360 Cubans were detained at the Honduran border with Nicaragua.

Over the past ten years more than 300,000 Cubans have gone through Honduras to the United States in a daily flow which is "likely to increase," , said Rene Gomez, a spokesman for Honduras' National Migration Institute (INM) last week. Cuban migrants, despite being initially detained, are not deported from Honduras. Instead, illegal aliens are given a 72-hour "safe-passage" permit to travel through the country. They then make their way to the border with Guatemala and continue on through Mexico to the United States. This policy is clearly not in the interest of the United States, which would be better served if Honduras deported illegal aliens, rather than waving them through.

A recent report by CIS shows that the number of Cubans in the United States grew by 68,000 from 2010 to 2014, putting Cuba in the top-10 of immigrant-sending countries for that period.

Many of these Cubans are not coming directly from Cuba, but arriving from Ecuador. Ecuador has become a springboard for Cubans, especially since 2014. Between 2008 and 20012 Ecuador did not require visas for tourists, making entrance to the country relatively easy. However, during that period the Cuban government still required Cubans to obtain a special exit permit to travel outside the country. In 2013, Cuba lifted the exit permit requirement. In response, Ecuador implemented its own rule which dictated Cubans could enter the country by invitation only. However, Ecuador's President Rafael Correa suspended the rule in April, 2014. Consequently, Cubans have been able to travel to Ecuador, and have made their way northward across the permeable borders of Central America into the United States.

According to a Pew Research Center report the number of Cubans entering the U.S. has "spiked dramatically" since the thaw with Cuba. Overall, 27,296 unauthorized Cubans entered the U.S. during the first nine months of the just-ended 2015 fiscal year, a 78 percent increase over the same time period the previous year; the prior year's numbers had already increased dramatically Cuba lifted travel restrictions in 2013. Two-thirds of the Cubans in the Pew report (18, 397) entered the country through the U.S. Border Patrol's Laredo Sector in Texas, representing a 66 percent increase from the same time period from FY 2014.

In short, it is not only United States immigration policies which have an effect on U.S. immigration levels. The policies of other countries also have an impact. Thus, it is important for the United States to set a clear example and send a strong message – increased immigration (legal or illegal) is not the answer. Countries such as Honduras are less apt to change their own immigration policies if the United States continues to be lax on implementing its own immigration laws.

Topics: Cuba