Surge in Cuban immigration to U.S. continued through 2016


The number of Cubans entering the U.S. has spiked dramatically since President Barack Obama announced a renewal of ties with the island nation in late 2014, a Pew Research Center analysis of government data shows. The U.S. has since opened an embassy in Havana, a move supported by a large majority of Americans, and public support is growing for ending the trade embargo with Cuba.

On Thursday, the White House announced its latest step in policy toward Cuba by ending a long-standing policy that treated Cubans seeking to enter the U.S. differently from other immigrants. Under the old policy, Cubans hoping to legally live in the U.S. needed only to show up at a port of entry and pass an inspection, which included a check of criminal and immigration history in the U.S. After a year in the country, they were allowed to apply for legal permanent residence. The new policy makes Cubans who attempt to enter the U.S. without a visa subject to removal, whether they arrive by sea or port of entry.

Overall, 56,406 Cubans entered the U.S. via ports of entry in fiscal year 2016, up 31% from fiscal 2015 when 43,159 Cubans entered the same way, according to the latest U.S. Customs and Border Protection data. Fiscal 2015 saw an even larger surge, as Cuban entries jumped 78% over 2014, when 24,278 Cubans entered the U.S. And those 2014 numbers had already increased dramatically from previous years after the Cuban government lifted travel restrictions that year.

The recent rise in the number of Cubans entering the country began in the months immediately following Obama’s December 2014 announcement that the U.S. would renew ties with Cuba. From January to March 2015, 9,900 Cubans entered the U.S. via a port of entry, more than double the 4,746 who arrived during the same time period in 2014. The increase continued into fiscal 2016 and peaked in the first quarter of that fiscal year (October to December 2015), when 17,057 Cubans entered the U.S. via a port of entry, an increase of 85% compared with the same quarter of fiscal 2015.

Thousands of Cubans have migrated to the U.S. by land. Many fly to Ecuador because of the country’s liberal immigration policies, then travel north through Central America and Mexico. However, as some Central American countries have closed their borders to the flow, this route has grown more difficult to travel, and a number of Cuban immigrants have been stranded on their way to the U.S.

The majority of Cubans who have entered the United States by land in recent years arrived through the U.S. Border Patrol’s Laredo Sector in Texas, which borders Mexico. In fiscal 2015, two-thirds (28,371) of all Cubans entering the U.S. came through this sector, an 82% increase from the previous fiscal year. In fiscal 2016, the Laredo Sector continued to receive the majority (64%) of Cuban migrants entering the U.S. through a port of entry. Fiscal 2016 also saw a major spike in El Paso, where 5,179 Cubans entered, up from only 698 Cubans in fiscal 2015.

Since 2014, a large percentage increase has also occurred in the Miami sector, which covers several states but is primarily in Florida. The number of Cubans who entered in the Miami sector during fiscal 2015 more than doubled from the previous year, from 4,709 to 9,999, and this number rose again (to 10,992) in fiscal 2016.

Not all Cubans who attempted to enter the U.S. made it. Under previous U.S. policy, Cubans caught trying to reach the U.S. by sea were returned to Cuba or, if they cited fear of prosecution, to a third country. In fiscal 2016, the U.S. Coast Guard apprehended 5,263 Cubans at sea, the highest number of any country. The total exceeds the 3,505 Cubans apprehended in fiscal 2015.

There are 2 million Hispanics of Cuban ancestry living in the U.S. today, the fourth largest Hispanic origin group behind Mexicans, Puerto Ricans and Salvadorans. But population growth for this group is now being driven by Cuban Americans born in the U.S. The share of foreign born among Cubans in the U.S. declined from 68% in 2000 to 57% as of 2015.

Note: This is an updated version of a post originally published on Oct. 7, 2015.

Topics: Bilateral Relations, Hispanic/Latino Demographics, Immigration, Immigration Trends, Latin America, Migration

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16 striking findings from 2016


Every year, we publish a collection of facts about the important events, issues and trends we documented in our wide-ranging research over the past 12 months. In 2016,  Pew Research Center examined an array of topics in America – from immigration to the growing divide between Republicans and Democrats – as well as many from around the globe. Here are 16 of our most striking findings.

1 The American middle class is shrinking in most metropolitan areas. From 2000 to 2014, the share of adults living in middle-income households fell in 203 of the 229 U.S. metropolitan areas examined in a Pew Research Center analysis of government data. The decrease in the middle-class share was often substantial, measuring 6 percentage points or more in 53 metropolitan areas, compared with a 4-point drop nationally. However, the share of adults in the upper-income tier increased more than the share of adults in the lower-income tier in 119 of the 229 areas examined.

2 Significant demographic changes taking place in America have reshaped both major parties. The Democratic Party is becoming less white, less religious and better-educated at a faster rate than the country as a whole, while aging somewhat more slowly. Republican voters are becoming more diverse, better-educated and less religious at a slower rate than the country generally.

3 Millennials have become the nation’s largest living generation, surpassing Baby Boomers. Now numbering 75.4 million, the Millennial population continues to grow as young immigrants expand its ranks, and this year, the number of Millennials eligible to vote was about equal to that of the Baby Boomer generation. This demographic shift is particularly evident among Hispanics: Nearly six-in-ten Hispanics are Millennials or younger, and in 2016, Millennials (those ages 18 to 35) made up almost half of all Latino eligible voters.

4 Young people today are more likely to be living with their parents than with a spouse or partner. In 2014, for the first time in more than 130 years, adults ages 18 to 34 were slightly more likely to be living in their parents’ home than they were to be living with a spouse or partner in their own household. These new living arrangements largely reflect a shift away from marriage and partnership as young adults increasingly focus on education and the workplace. Partly as a result, a record 60.6 million Americans are now living in multigenerational households.

5 Nearly 1 in 100 worldwide are now displaced from their homes. As of the end of 2015, the number of displaced people in the world – more than 60 million – is at its highest since World War II. Conflict in Syria has been the principal contributor to the recent growth in the world’s displaced population.

6 Europe was gripped by rising popular discontent with the European Union and concerns about refugees. While the United Kingdom’s vote to leave the EU – known as “Brexit” – was one of the most dramatic reflections of the mood in Europe, a spring survey found a median of just 51% across 10 EU countries had a favorable view of the institution and a median of 42% wanted more power returned to their nations’ capitals. Unhappiness with the EU coincided with the influx of refugees, mostly from the Middle East, stoking concerns about security and economic repercussions. In eight of the 10 European nations surveyed, half or more said incoming refugees would increase the likelihood of terrorism in their country. As immigrant populations increased, few Europeans said the resulting cultural diversity made their countries a better place to live.

7 Republicans have grown increasingly skeptical of free trade. About two-thirds of Republicans and Republican-leaning registered voters (68%) say free trade has been a bad thing for the U.S., while only 24% say it has been good for the country. These views, which have shifted starkly since May 2015, when 51% of Republican voters said free trade was a good thing for the U.S. and 39% said it was bad, came as President-elect Trump criticized free trade throughout the 2016 election cycle. Democrats, on the other hand, remain largely positive about free trade. 

8 As global competition between the U.S. and China intensifies, people in both countries view one another warily. Today, 45% of Chinese see U.S. power and influence as posing a major threat to their country, up from 39% in 2013. In America, more than half of adults (55%) have an unfavorable view of China and just 37% give China a favorable rating. While half of Chinese see the U.S. favorably, 52% see the U.S. as trying to prevent China from becoming as powerful.

9 Prior to the election, Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton supporters had starkly different views about how life in America has changed over the past 50 years. About eight-in-ten Trump backers (81%) said life is worse than it was 50 years ago for people like them, compared with just 11% who said it has gotten better. Most Clinton supporters took the opposite stance: About six-in-ten (59%) said life for people like them has gotten better over the past half-century, while 19% said it has gotten worse.

10 About four-in-ten blacks (43%) are skeptical that America will ever make the changes needed for blacks to achieve equal rights with whites. Only 11% of whites express the same doubts about the U.S. making the necessary changes for blacks to have equal rights with whites. Overall, blacks are much more likely than whites to say black people are treated less fairly in the workplace, when applying for a loan or mortgage, in dealing with police, in the courts, in stores or restaurants and when voting.

11 Americans have conflicting views on some controversies that pit claims of religious liberty or traditional morality against nondiscrimination policies. About half of U.S. adults (49%) say businesses that provide wedding services should be required to provide those services to same-sex couples, even if they have religious objections, while a similar share (48%) say business owners should be able to refuse service to same-sex couples on religious grounds. Americans are also split over whether transgender people should be allowed to use public restrooms of their current gender identity (51%) or required to use the bathrooms matching the gender they were born into (46%).

12 A wide gap in presidential preferences emerged in the 2016 election between whites with and without a college degree. Trump’s margin among whites without a college degree was the largest among any candidate in exit polls since 1980. Two-thirds (67%) of non-college whites backed him, compared with just 28% who supported Clinton.

13 Americans’ pathways to news are changing, and mobile news is on the rise. Almost four-in-ten Americans (38%) often get news online today, behind only television (57%); radio (25%) and print newspapers (20%) trail both. Within the digital realm, mobile news consumption is rising rapidly: The proportion of Americans who ever get news on a mobile device has gone up from 54% in 2013 to 72% today. And among people who get news on both mobile and desktop, 56% prefer mobile.

14 Facebook is by far the most popular social media platform among Americans. Today, about eight-in-ten online Americans (79%) use Facebook, more than double the share that uses Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram or LinkedIn. About three-quarters (76%) of Americans who use Facebook now report that they visit the site on a daily basis – up from 70% in 2015.

15 The sharing economy and on-demand services are starting to weave their way into the lives of Americans. About seven-in-ten Americans (72%) have used some type of online or shared service, such as the ride-hailing service Uber or the home-sharing service Airbnb. College graduates, those with relatively high household incomes and those younger than 45 are most exposed to these services. Those with lower incomes and who live in rural areas are less exposed.

16 The American public is wary of technologies that could “enhance” human abilities. Majorities of U.S. adults say they would be “very” or “somewhat” worried about gene editing (68%), brain chips (69%) and synthetic blood (63%), while no more than half say they would be enthusiastic about each of these developments. Some people say they would be both enthusiastic and worried, but, overall, concern outweighs excitement. The biggest resistance is toward technologies that would result in abilities “far above that of any human known to date” or in permanent changes.

Topics: 2016 Election, Demographics, Emerging Technology Impacts, Generations and Age, Hispanic/Latino Demographics, Migration, News Audience Trends and Attitudes, Political Polarization, Population Trends, Religion and Society, Social Media, Social Values

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Hillary Clinton won Latino vote but fell below 2012 support for Obama


Hillary Clinton won 66% of Latino voters on Election Day, according to updated National Election Pool exit poll data, a level of Democratic support similar to 2008, when 67% of Hispanics backed Barack Obama. However, Clinton’s share of the Latino vote was lower than in 2012, when 71% of Latinos voted to re-elect Obama.

While Clinton underperformed among Latinos compared with 2012, Republican Donald Trump won 28% of the Latino vote, a similar share to 2012, when Mitt Romney won 27%, and to 2008, when John McCain won 31%, according to exit polls. (It is important to note that the national exit poll is a survey with an overall margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points for the national result.)

On immigration issues, 68% of Hispanic voters opposed building a wall along the entire U.S. border with Mexico, compared with 46% of whites and 82% of blacks, according to NBC News exit polls. When asked about unauthorized immigrants, 78% of Hispanic voters said they should be offered a chance to apply for legal status, compared with 67% of whites and 82% of blacks. Overall, 46% of Hispanics cited the economy as the most important issue facing the country, followed by terrorism (20%), immigration (19%) and foreign policy (11%).

(For more analysis of the 2016 exit polls, see “Behind Trump’s victory: Divisions by race, gender, education” and “How the faithful voted: A preliminary 2016 analysis.” For an explanation of how exit polls are conducted, see “Just how does the general election exit poll work, anyway?“)

Some pre-election polls found levels of Latino support for Clinton that were similar to the ones that the national exit poll showed. However, most pre-election polls found lower Latino support for Trump than the exit polls did. For example, 19% of Latino registered voters backed Trump in Pew Research Center’s fall National Survey of Latinos.

In the days before Election Day, there was evidence of a possible historic surge in Latino voter turnout nationwide. Reports from Florida, Nevada and elsewhere showed strong early-voter turnout among Latinos. And the national exit poll suggests that Latinos did make up a larger share of voters in 2016 than previously: 11% this year, up from 10% in 2012 and 9% in 2008. Preliminary estimates show that slightly more votes were cast nationwide compared with 2012, leaving it unclear how many Latinos actually voted in 2016. (This year’s Latino voter turnout, which has historically trailed other groups, won’t be known until sometime in 2017 when the U.S. Census Bureau publishes its report on U.S. voting.)

Turnout aside, a record 27.3 million of Latinos were eligible to vote in 2016, up 4 million from four years ago – the largest increase of any racial or ethnic group. And the Latino electorate grew in many states since 2012, including the battlegrounds of Arizona, Florida and Nevada.

Note: This analysis was originally published Nov. 9 and has been updated. It reflects data for 2016 as published by and/or as of 12 p.m. on Nov. 29.

If data are subsequently re-weighted by the National Election Pool (NEP), the consortium of news organizations that conducts the exit polls, the numbers reported here may differ slightly from figures accessible through the websites of NEP member organizations.

Topics: 2016 Election, Hispanic/Latino Demographics, Hispanic/Latino Vote, U.S. Political Parties, Voter Demographics, Voter Participation, Voting Issues

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Latinos made economic strides in 2015 after years of few gains


Latinos made progress on household income, poverty and jobs in 2015 after years of little or no economic gains, but they have lagged in building personal wealth, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of government data.

Hispanic real median household income was $45,148 last year, an increase of 6.1% over 2014, when median income stood at $42,540, the latest economic data from the U.S. Census Bureau show. Over the same period, the real median household income increased by 4.4% for non-Hispanic whites, 4.1% for blacks and 3.7% for Asians. Even so, Hispanics still trailed non-Hispanic whites ($62,950) and Asians ($77,166) by significant margins on this measure.

Hispanics also saw their poverty rate decline as household incomes rose. The Hispanic poverty rate stood at 21.4% in 2015, down from 23.6% in 2014, according to the Census Bureau. Non-Hispanic whites (9.1%) and Asians (11.4%) had far lower poverty rates than Hispanics in 2015, while that of blacks (24.1%) was slightly higher. 

These gains in income partly reflect an improved employment situation for Latinos. The Latino unemployment rate stood at 5.8% in the third quarter of 2016, down from 7.3% in the third quarter of 2014 and a peak of 12.8% in the first quarter of 2010. Nonetheless, Latino unemployment remains above its pre-recession minimum of 5.0% in the fourth quarter of 2006.

While Latinos have made recent gains on income, poverty and employment, there has been little or no improvement in other areas. For example, the median net worth for Hispanic households in 2013 ($13,700) declined after the end of the Great Recession in 2009, and trailed far behind that of whites ($141,900), according to the latest U.S. government data. Meanwhile, the Latino homeownership rate, currently at 47%, remains below its 2007 peak of 50%.

Latino registered voters rated the economy as one of the most important issues to their vote in this year’s presidential election, and the recent economic gains are reflected in the views they have about their own circumstances. In 2015, Latinos expressed growing optimism about their immediate economic future and rated their personal finances more highly than in previous years, according to Pew Research Center’s National Survey of Latinos.

They have also remained upbeat about the economic upward mobility of their children. Roughly three-in-four Latinos in 2015 (72%) said their children will be better off financially than they themselves were at the moment. Only 5% said their children will be less well off in their lifetimes than they were.

Correction: A previous version of this post overstated the current Latino homeownership rate.

Topics: Economics and Personal Finances, Hispanic/Latino Demographics, Income, Income Inequality, National Economy, Socioeconomic Class, Work and Employment

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Unlike other Latinos, about half of Cuban voters in Florida backed Trump


November 15, 2016

In Florida, Cubans were about twice as likely as non-Cuban Latinos to vote for Donald Trump. More than half (54%) supported the Republican president-elect, compared with about a quarter (26%) of non-Cuban Latinos, according to National Election Pool exit poll data.

A significant share of Cubans in Florida voted for Hillary Clinton – 41% – but this was far below the 71% of non-Cuban Latinos who backed the Democratic nominee. At the same time, the level of support for Trump among Cubans was similar to that of non-Latinos in the state (51%).

Overall, 35% of Latino voters in Florida supported Trump, but that share was down from 2012, when Mitt Romney won 39% of their vote.

Two-thirds (67%) of the nation’s 1.2 million Cuban eligible voters live in Florida, with many living in the Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach area. But as Florida’s Latino eligible voter population has grown (reaching 2.6 million in 2014), the Cuban share of that population has declined to 31%. (The Puerto Rican share of the state’s Latino eligible population stands at 28%.)

Florida was once again a battleground state this year, which focused attention from the campaigns and nonpartisan groups on the Latino vote statewide. As a result, Latino turnout was up among early voters, according to news reports. And the Florida exit poll shows the share of the state’s voters who were Latino grew from 17% in 2012 to 18% in 2016.

While there is no exit poll data that shows how Cubans in Florida voted in 2008 or 2012, our National Survey of Latinos has found that Cuban registered voters have been shifting toward the Democratic Party for more than a decade.

Topics: 2016 Election, Hispanic/Latino Demographics, Hispanic/Latino Vote, Race and Ethnicity, U.S. Political Parties

  1. Photo of Jens Manuel Krogstad

    is a writer/editor focusing on Hispanics, immigration and demographics at Pew Research Center.

  2. is a research assistant focusing on Hispanic research at Pew Research Center.

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