HAVANA, July 18 (UPI) -- Tightened Florida coastal security on smuggling illegal aliens has led to an increase in Cubans using Mexico as a route to the United States, say authorities.
More than 11,500 Cubans made it to the U.S. border from Mexico in 2008, 33 percent more than the previous year and nearly double the number who arrived via land in 2004, the Los Angeles Times reported Friday. Cubans who physically reach U.S. territory are entitled to legal residency after a short detention.
The route through Mexico has become a preferred route for smugglers evading increased surveillance of waters off Florida by the U.S. Coast Guard and Immigration and Naturalization Services personnel. Coast Guard interceptions of suspected illegal immigrant traffickers are up this year by about 20 percent, with 323 encounters since last October.