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The Dominican Republic is the latest country trying to stem a wave of Cuban transit migration

 Cuban migrants transiting through Costa Rica. They are sitting on a stretch of concrete outside a building.
Esteban Felix
Cuban migrants transiting through Costa Rica.

Dominican officials this week announced stiffer visa requirements for Cuban migrants transiting through to the U.S., following countries like Colombia and Panama.

The Dominican Republic has announced it's making it harder for Cuban migrants to transit through the country on the way to the U.S. — a move that reflects an unusually large wave of Cubans leaving the communist island.

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Dominican immigration officials said Monday that starting April 30, Cuban migrants hoping to transit through the country will have to show residency (or citizenship) in the U.S., Canada, U.K. or E.U.; or multiple-entry visas for those countries; or a visa to enter the Dominican Republic.

Dominican officials say the measure is necessary to stem an overwhelming surge of Cuban transit migration. It’s the latest country in the region to crack down on that wave — caused by Cuba’s severe economic hardship and ramped-up political repression after last summer's unprecedented anti-government protests.

In February alone, U.S. immigration officials stopped more than 16,000 Cubans at the U.S.-Mexico border — the highest monthly figure this century. Most transited through third countries, putting strains on their immigration services.

It’s why Costa Rica and Panama recently began requiring Cubans to secure visas — and why Colombia has suspended transit visa applications from Cubans.

Nicaragua, however, recently began letting Cubans transit through without visas. Its authoritarian leftist regime is an ally of Cuba’s.

Cuba blames its emigration flow through third countries on the U.S.'s failure to process tens of thousands of visa applications from Cubans. That backlog is due to the virtual closure of the U.S. embassy in Havana five years ago, after personnel reported mysterious illnesses from alleged and still unsolved sonic attacks.

The Biden Administration recently announced it plans to re-staff the U.S. embassy in Havana and resume consular services sometime this year.