What's driving the irregular Cuban immigration to the US?

Dennis Brasky

Those Cubans leave behind an economy in crisis as a result of suffocating US sanctions and the Covid-19 pandemic. The resulting scarcities and shortages of food, fuel, medicines, have made daily life exhausting. Economic problems have been compounded by inflation, following currency reunification and global prices rises. Even the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) acknowledged these factors in a 9 January 2023 report on high and rising numbers of Cubans encountered at the Southwest border and interdicted at sea: ‘Cuba is facing its worst economic crisis in decades due to the lingering impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, high food prices, and economic sanctions’.

In 2020 and 2021, Cuba’s GDP plummeted 13%. Unlike most countries, because the United States blocks Cuba’s access to international financial institutions, Cuba has no lender of last resort to help it through economic crises.

President Biden left these suffocating measures in place, adding sanctions of his own in response to the 11 July 2021 protests in Cuba. 

‘If the Biden administration wants to reduce the illegal immigration of Cubans into the United States, it will have to do more than grant a limited amount of parole and try to seal the border. It must stop suffocating Cuba and allow it to breathe.’