Recent patterns for Cuban Immigration to the USA

Posted: May 28, 2014 by jennroig in Miscellaneous
Tags: , ,

I am really loving this Data Journalism Course. Here I am bringing more data into context. For this post I gathered a some numbers from the 2012 Yearbook of Immigration Statistics, published by the Department of Homeland Security in July 2013.

Note: Not that I could scrape any data, because it’s difficult from a PDF. If someone knows a faster way, I’ll appreciate the clue.

My newest chart puts into perspective some figures referred to the arrival of Cubans to the USA, and their later adjust of status to legal permanent  residents (LPR), between 2003 and 2012. I landed in Philly on October 2012. So I am one fraction of those numbers. (If you actually clic on the link to the chart, the numbers will be there and you’ll get more detailed info).

chart immigration

I find some patterns that contradict my initial thoughts.

LPR Status: Legal Permanent Resident Status stand out with the highest numbers because they are the sum of: 1. Cubans that won the migration lottery, 2. Cubans that come as direct relatives of US Citizens, 3. the refugees and asylum seekers that arrived at least a year ago, 4. those who came as non-immigrant who decided to stay and wait a year and a day to request adjustment of status.

In a perfect world, the numbers will show that specific pattern, but real life is messier. Bureaucracy and human behavior challenge maths. On the one hand, applications can take different times to process, variations depend on the office that processes each case, the time of the year, the number of actual applicants, etc. On the other, humans are full of surprises. I know a Cuban who took 2 months passed his deadline of one year plus one day residing in the country, before sending his application.

Naturalization: Cubans don’t hurry to naturalize as US Citizens, at least they delay it more than I expected. I knew older generations of Cubans are still linked to their Cuban roots, and try to avoid naturalizing as a resource to preserve somehow that Cuban identity. But younger generations -which I would think are the bulk of immigrants for recent years- are more practical, less romantic, and in general makes way more sense to become a citizen of the USA as soon as possible. But if you follow the yellow line, and compare it to the blue line four years before, it will show that the number of Cubans who got their LPR status is much higher. The fact that I’m indicating to count back four years will strike many of you. Well, there’s something called the Cuban Adjustment Act (CAA) that adjust my status as LPR in this country to the date I actually arrived, not the date I applied for documentation or was actually granted the LPR card. But that’s a story for another day.

It is interesting that the number of those obtaining LPR status is declining since 2008, while the number of naturalized Cubans has been steadily increasing, with that spike in 2008. I wonder whether there was any influence from the presidential elections that year. Could that yes-we-can spirit influence over Cubans who felt compelled to become Americans?

Refugees arrivals & Apprehensions: In a report from 2009, immigration specialist Ruth Ellen Wasem points out that most apprehensions happen in the open sea. Few Cubans are caught crossing the borders, Mexican or Canadian. That remains true today. I would really like to know something I could not find in the numbers, how many of those refugees actually succeeded in crossing the Florida Strait?

What are the odds for a Cuban who intends to “sail” his/her way to the USA to actually make it?

Refugees vs I94: It is even more revealing to find out that more Cubans are arriving with non-immigrant status than those who come as refugees. I am one of those I94, as I was granted a visa to come for a Seminar at the Wharton School of Business. But the majority of those Cubans are relatives to LPRs or Cuban Americans that come invited by their families. Some of them stay, many of them go back.

To finish the post, I also compiled data about different bases Cubans use to support their claims to become LPRs.  From a total of 32.820 Cubans that were granted LRP in 2012 – which you can see in the previous chart- that number breaks down into 917 family sponsored (the family member doesn’t necessarily has to be naturalized as US citizen), 3.402 Cubans  who were immediate relatives of US Citizens, 28.346 refugees and asylees, 74 applied for “diversity” – which I have no clue what it is-, employment based is 13, so insignificant that the pie didn’t see it, and that weird item “other” that sums 14.

Cubans LPR 2012


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