It appears another migrant caravan is making its way towards the southern border, but a large portion of the group is said to be from the Caribbean island of Cuba, a new phenomenon that reveals how exploitable the border is today.
At least 700 Cuban nationals comprise the 1,500-person caravan that is currently traveling through the Mexican state of Chiapas in southern Mexico.
According to some reports, the Cuban group joined Central American caravan members after Mexico’s National Institute of Migration closed its office in Chiapas due to bribery accusations. For Cubans, transiting through Central America and Mexico has become a convenient way to reach the United States where they can take advantage of Cold War-era law, the Cuban Adjustment Act of 1966.
Under the Cuban Adjustment Act of 1966, any Cuban national who makes it to the U.S. is permitted to stay and adjust status to permanent resident within a year.
While the migrant caravans have been made up of individuals mainly from Central America, the caravans often consist of individuals from other countries, such as Cuba in this case, and also individuals from Special Interest Countries, or countries that are known to support terrorism.
The country’s porous southern border, easily exploitable asylum laws, and other policies and court rulings serve as “pull factors” for migrants across the globe and incentivize them to make the dangerous trek northward to the United States.
The William Wilberforce Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act (TVPRA) requires U.S. authorities to release unaccompanied alien minors (UAMs) from non-contiguous countries from detention after 72 hours, and guarantees a lengthy court process for those seeking to remain here. The Flores Settlement requires children traveling with adults to be released from detention after a maximum of 20 days, thanks to a federal judge’s ruling in California in 2015. This also enables families to disappear in the country without a trace.
It remains unclear which path the newly formed caravan will take through Mexico to reach the border. It is typical for caravans to head towards Tijuana, Mexico, as California is a sanctuary state and the path is seen as a ‘safer’ route for migrants. Last month, however, a 1,600-person caravan attempted to cross into Eagle Pass, Texas, a sleepy town at the opposite end of the U.S.-Mexico border.
Either way, the Border Patrol is overwhelmed by the sheer number of individuals found in recent migrant caravans. While building a border barrier is certainly needed, more legislative action, such as reforming the TVPRA and the Flores Settlement, and repealing the Cold War-era Cuban Adjustment Act would help decrease the surges we are seeing now.