Since former President Barack Obama left office, deportations of Cubans seeking asylum in the United States has increased more than tenfold under the Trump administration. In the last year, more than 800 Cubans have been deported, the Associated Press reported.
It’s a combination of Obama ending the “wet foot, dry foot” policy just days before he left office, which gave special privileges that Cubans fleeing their country had enjoyed for decades, plus the Trump administration’s stricter asylum requirements. But Cubans face a different predicament — for the most part, the Cuban government does not want back the Cubans who left.
The Cuban government’s reluctance to take people back has left many Cubans in limbo. Unable to enter the United States and unable to return to their country. When Cubans are deported back, rights advocates and lawyers say they face retaliation, sometimes brutal, for claiming asylum, especially those who claimed they were being persecuted, according to the Associated Press.
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Of the 800 in the last year that have been deported out of the U.S., only several hundred have actually landed back in Havana. A U.S. government flight landed in Havana on Sept. 27 with 96 Cubans aboard and another with 120 Cubans arrived Aug. 30.
But the difficulties have not stopped Cubans from attempting the trek to the U.S. About 21,000 Cubans have requested asylum at U.S.-Mexico crossings since last October, triple the number seen the previous 12 months, according to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection statistics.
Of those 21,000 who have requested asylum at border crossings, thousands more Cubans are stuck in northern Mexico on waitlists that are trickled through slowly. They can go neither forward nor backward and wait to be released into the U.S. or kept in long-term ICE custody.