According to the Miami Herald, border entries by Cuban nationals are at their highest since 2005. The have climbed from 5,316 in 2011 to 17,459 in 2014. According to the latest figures from U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), at least 27,413 Cubans have entered through the US-Mexico border from Oct. 1, 2014, through Aug. 31, 2015. The numbers are high enough that some human rights activists in Mexico have labeled it a “migration crisis.”

Cuban immigrants detained by CBP receive different treatment than other migrants from Latin America because they are fleeing a communist country. They are afforded certain privileges under the Cuban Adjustment Act of 1966 that allows them to be granted asylum much more easily than other applicants for relief from deportation. Many Cubans who are now fleeing the island fear the US government will repeal the Cuban Adjustment Act now that diplomatic ties between the two countries are being restored.

Pinar del Río [Cuba] native Carmen Ordaz, 33, also was headed to Miami to join her husband Orlando Cata. He was a doctor assigned to community service in Venezuela, defected through Colombia and made the same journey about five months ago. Ordaz followed suit, arriving by bus to Miami a week ago after crossing the U.S.-Mexico border in Reynosa, Texas. “The fear is that the Cuban Adjustment Act will end,” Ordaz said. “So people are getting out.”

In decades past, there have been three major waves of Cuban migration: in the early 1960s after Fidel Castro’s communist revolution, in 1980 when Castro opened his prisons and let people leave Cuba (known as the Mariel boatlift), and the 1996 exodus under President Bill Clinton that resulted in the “wet feet, dry feet” policy currently in effect. This means that if a Cuban citizen is interdicted at sea by US authorities, they are immediately returned to Cuba. However, if they successfully make it to US soil, they are generally granted asylum if they have no criminal history.

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