Political upheaval in Cuba created waves of Cuban immigrants to the U.S starting in the late 1950s.
After the Cuban revolution led by Fidel Castro, a large Cuban exodus began as the new government began to introduce communism.
From 1960 to 1979, hundreds of thousands of Cubans left Cuba and began a new life in the United States.
Most Cuban Americans that arrived initially came from Cuba's educated upper and middle classes.
Between December 1960 and October 1962 more than 14,000 Cuban children arrived alone in the U.S.
Their parents were afraid that their children were going to be sent to some Soviet bloc countries to be educated so they sent them to the States as soon as possible.
This program was called Operation Peter Pan (Operacion Pedro Pan). When the children arrived in Miami they were met by representatives of Catholic Charities and they were sent to live with relatives if they had any or were sent to foster homes, orphanages or boarding schools until their parents could leave Cuba.
In order to provide aid to recently arrived Cuban immigrants, the United States Congress passed the Cuban Adjustment Act in 1966. The Cuban Refugee Program provided more than $1.3 billion of direct financial assistance.
Cubans also were eligible for public assistance, Medicare, free English courses, scholarships, and low-interest college loans.
Some banks even provided loans for exiles who did not have collateral or credit. These loans enabled many Cuban Americans to secure funds and start up their own busineses.
With their Cuban-owned businesses and low cost of living, Miami, Florida and Union City, New Jersey (dubbed Havana on the Hudson,) became hubs for the new emigres.
According to author Lisandro Perez, Miami was not particularly attractive to Cubans prior to the 1960s.
It was not until the mass exodus of the Cuban exiles in 1959 that Miami started to become a preferred destination. Westchester, Florida within Miami-Dade County, was the area most densely populated by Cubans and Cuban Americans in the United States, followed by Hialeah, Florida in second.
In 2010, Hialeah, Florida was the area most densely populated by Cubans and Cuban Americans in the U.S., Westchester, Florida was second.
Communities like Miami, Tampa, and Union City, which Cuban-Americans have made their home, have experienced a profound cultural impact as a result, as seen in such aspects of their local culture as cuisine, fashion, music, entertainment and cigar-making.
In 1980, a mass migration of asylum seekers—known as the Mariel boatlift -- brought approximately 125,000 Cubans (and 25,000 Haitians) to South Florida over a six-month period. After declining for several years, Cuban "boat people" steadily rose from a few hundred in 1989 to a few thousand in 1993.
Of interest, the Republican Party had a very negative reaction to the arrival of the Haitians
After Castro made threatening speeches in 1994, riots ensued in Havana, and the Cuban exodus by boat restarted. The number of Cubans intercepted by the U.S. Coast Guard or the U.S. Border Patrol reached a post-Mariel high of 37,191 in 1994.
Until 1995, the United States generally had not repatriated Cubans except for certain criminal aliens on a negotiated list.
Not only has the United States been reluctant to repatriate people to Cuba, but the Cuban government typically has also refused to accept Cuban migrants who are not admittable under the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA).
Cubans who have been convicted of crimes in the United States pose complex problems, as Cuba does not generally accept the return of criminal aliens.
Why? Castro shrewdly emptied his prisons when the Mareil boatlift started and sent most of the Cuban criminals to the US. He doesn't want any of his criminales back.
Today the United States admits no fewer than 20,000 immigrants from Cuba annually, not including the immediate relatives of U.S. citizens.
The United States and Cuba agreed to cooperate on the voluntary return of Cubans who arrived in the United States or were intercepted at sea.
Interdicted Cubans are given an opportunity to express a fear of persecution if returned to Cuba.
Those who meet the definition of a refugee or asylum seeker are resettled in a third country. From May 1995 through July 2003, about 170 Cuban refugees were resettled in 11 different countries, including Spain, Venezuela, Australia, and Nicaragua.
The State Department is required to monitor whether those migrants who are returned to Cuba are subject to reprisals.
Unfortunately, other Latin nations do not have this special status when their emigres come to the US.
This is why Marco Rubio, whose parents emigrated to the US prior to the Castor revolution, is unlikely to appeal to other Latins and Hispanics who are not " the chosen people."
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