Cuban Immigrants in the United States

Brittany Blizzard and Jeanne Batalova
Date of Publication: 
June, 2020
Source Organization: 
Migration Policy Institute

The first wave of Cuban immigration to the United States began in 1959 during the communist revolution. Until 2017, Cuban refugees received unique and favorable treatment when arriving at the U.S. border due to the so-called “wet-foot-dry-foot” policy. Using data from the U.S. Census Bureau and the Department of Homeland Security, this report from the Migration Policy Institute finds that Cubans since 1970 have traditionally been among the 10 largest immigrant groups in the U.S.  In 2018, they were the seventh largest immigrant group with 1.4 million people. The majority (77 percent) of Cuban immigrants are concentrated in the Miami metropolitan area. Cuban immigrants are significantly less likely to be proficient in English and are generally much older than the overall foreign-born population. Data suggests that Cuban immigrants also have lower levels of educational attainment and lower levels of labor force participation than other immigrant groups. Many Cubans in the labor force are in service, sales, construction, production and transportation occupations. Despite having a lower average income than other immigrant groups and U.S.-born population, Cuban immigrants have a high naturalization rate. (Jaisang Sun for the Immigrant Learning Center’s Public Education Institute)


Batalova, J., & Blizzard, B. (2020, June 11). Cuban Immigrants in the United States. Migration Policy Institute.