Illegal Immigration via our Shores

Miami is what it has become thanks to its Cuban immigration, there is no doubt about that. Ever since Fidel Castro assumed power in 1959 there has been a huge influx of Cubans who immigrated to South Florida, and soon thereafter immigrants from all Latin American countries followed suit, turning Miami into a culturally-rich cosmopolitan and modern city. Along the years there has been a steady wave of immigration from this neighboring island, particularly ever since the “wet feet, dry feet” policy initiated in 1966. But now there has been a massive jump in immigration with more than 13,000 immigrants coming from Cuba during 2012. From 2009 to 2011 the average rate of immigration comprised 7,500 Cubans, but this year marks the first time since 2008 that the figures surpass the 10,000 mark when in 2008 a total of 16,260 Cubans disembarked on Floridian land. Experts attribute this decrease in immigration to the faltering U.S. economy that made it less desirable to immigrate to this country.

The speculation as to reasons that had lead Cubans to come over to the U.S. points to the fact that many families already in the U.S. may have made all efforts possible to bring them over along with the overall disillusionment Cubans have had with the slow pace of reforms brought on by Raul Castro, Fidel’s brother and successor. It is worth noting, however, that apart from all the obvious incentives to immigrate to the U.S., the trip is not made without serious risk and hardship. Most Cubans depend on the services of illegal contrabandists that help smuggle them out of Cuba and provide a safe passage to the U.S. And yet in spite of the “wet feet, dry feet” policy, their arrival to U.S. shores is generally not a smooth one. The coast guard takes it upon themselves to intercept these kinds of travelers at sea. At least 1,275 Cubans were intercepted from October 1st and September 30th 2012, According to the Miami Herald.

Immigrating to the United States has for long been the aim of many; as a result, countless illicit businesses have sprung to facilitate and enable this process. Fabio Rodrigues Froes and his wife Juliana Tome Froes were stopped at the Miami International Airport (MIA) after a federal investigation rendered them suspicious of trafficking illegal immigrants into the U.S. The Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) investigation compiled evidence that point to the fact that they brought several undocumented Brazilians to South Florida through a series of flights that departed from Brazil and then went on to Paris and London before making their way to the Bahamas to trick the system by then departing on a boat to their final destination—the Florida coast.

Illegal routes of immigration are widely known, especially those used by Cuban and Haitian immigrants, but those travelled by immigrants of other countries are just as actively pursued. The U.S. Coast Guard intercepts vessels primarily from Cuba, Haiti, Dominican Republic, Mexico, Ecuador and China, but citizens from nearly every country also partake in this illicit business. Last month, a boat was intercepted that carried with it an individual from Rumania, three Brazilians, two Jamaicans and seven Haitians, none of whom had visas to enter the United States. Gabriel Florica, the individual from Rumania, identified himself as the captain of the boat that was intercepted on the coasts of Palm Beach County, and said to have paid $2,000 to a person by the name of Leroy after travelling to England and the Bahamas from where the boat departed. According to the Coast Guard in 2012 a total of 1,275 Cubans were intercepted at sea, along with 977 Haitians, 456 Dominicans, 79 Mexicans, and 138 individuals from various nationalities.

The operation allegedly carried out by the two Brazilian suspects was discovered during a routine interception, but they have pleaded innocent to having had any involvement in it. Be that as it may, there is one thing that is certain: whatever the origin, be it from a neighboring country in the Caribbean or one across the Atlantic or Pacific, it is evident that immigration to the United States is still in vogue and will remain so. Immigrants have added color and flavor to our nation and have enriched our own culture by doing so. In spite of the hardship innate in immigrating to a foreign land, we encourage everyone to do so in a legal manner and in a way that does not put themselves or any one else at risk.

We welcome those who come to this country with the drive and spirit to be positive contributors to our society and are ready to work hard toward achieving their own piece of the American Dream.

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