Editorial: Cuban outflow unabated
Herald Staff Sunday, November 29, 2015
The resumption of diplomatic relations between the United States and
Cuba shows that the Law of Unintended Consequences is still in effect.
The flow of emigrants from Cuba to the United States is surging.
Since 1966, Cubans have enjoyed — if that's the right word for a
grueling experience — unique treatment under U.S. immigration law, the
so-called "wet foot-dry foot" policy. If you're intercepted at sea,
you're sent back to Cuba; if you make it to shore, you can stay and win
legal residency after a year.
In the first nine months of 2015, more than 27,000 Cubans entered the
United States, a 78 percent increase over the same period of 2014.
The new flow results from a fear in Cuba that U.S. policy will harden,
though Secretary of State John Kerry said in July there were no plans to
do so. That's the correct policy right now, though some useful
amendments could be made.
Increasingly, Cubans are arriving through Mexico after flying to
Ecuador, which does not require entry visas. (The Cuban government gave
up its requirement for rarely granted exit visas three years ago.) From
Ecuador they move across Mexico to Texas, avoiding the dangers of an
ocean voyage though facing new ones of jungle territory and venal officials.
The Associated Press this past week sent a fascinating dispatch from
Costa Rica describing how cheap cellphones enable Cubans to warn
compatriots behind them of particular dangers and to stay in touch with
helpful relatives in the United States.
Some critics of "wet-foot, dry-foot" want to exclude Cubans who leave
for economic reasons, which would ignore Cuba's ongoing economic
persecution. Not only are there pitifully few ways to run a business,
it's the only country with a maximum wage, $20 per month ($30 for
The most energetic, resourceful and resilient people in Cuba want to
benefit the United States with those valuable characteristics and skill
sets. Only the transformation of Cuba into a normal country where
entrepreneurship can thrive can change all that.
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