Cuban Migration: A Postrevolution Exodus Ebbs and Flows

Report Author: 
Jorge Duany
Original Date of Publication: 
July, 2017

This article examines the history of Cuban emigration and the political context within which it has occurred. While there was Cuban migration to the U.S. before the Cuban Revolution of 1959, the scale of that migration increased greatly afterwards. The author divides migration since 1959 into five phases and notes that the socioeconomic characteristics of migrants changes with each new phase. The first wave from 1959 and 1962 consisted largely of the upper and middle classes; later, Cuban migrants increasingly resembled labor migrants coming from other countries. The Cuban Adjustment Act, enacted in 1966, acted as a magnet-offering any Cuban admitted or paroled into the U.S. immediate refugee-like status and legal permanent residence after one year. As relations between the U.S. and Cuba began to thaw toward the end of the Obama administration, Cubans feared an end to favorable treatment, and there was another spike in migration. On January 12, 2017, the Obama administration announced that Cubans arriving in the U.S. would no longer automatically be admitted or paroled, cutting their access to the special treatment provided by the Cuban Adjustment Act. Subsequently, Cuban migration dropped dramatically. Unless the Trump administration reverses its predecessor's policies, Cuban migrants will no longer be a significant percentage of the U.S. migrant stream (Maurice Belanger, Maurice Belanger Associates).

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 A Postrevolution Exodus Ebbs and Flows


Duany, J. (2017). Cuban Migration: A Postrevolution Exodus Ebbs and Flows (p. 11). Washington, D.C.: Migration Policy Institute. Retrieved from

Source Organization: 
Migration Policy Institute