Keep the Cuban Adjustment Act, but clamp down on its abusers
'The spirit of the CAA continues to be relevant'
Many Cubans risk their safety and their lives to escape
Some come to reap U.S. benefits and return to island
BY CARLOS CURBELO
In 1965, one year before signing the Cuban Adjustment Act into law,
President Lyndon Johnson said, "I declare this afternoon to the people
of Cuba that those who seek refuge here in America will find it. The
dedication of America to our traditions as an asylum for the oppressed
is going to be upheld."
Clearly, the spirit of the Act was to assist Cubans who had to flee
their homeland and could not return for fear of persecution.
However, unlike other immigrants seeking political asylum, Cubans can
return home without jeopardizing their status. In no other instance are
refugees or asylees allowed to return to the country they claim is
persecuting them without fundamental political change in that country
occurring first, or before becoming U.S. citizens.
This is an obvious inconsistency in the law, as several South Florida
newspapers have repeatedly pointed out. Ignoring this flaw is
detrimental to efforts to reform and preserve the law for those who
truly fear for their safety and security in Cuba. Moreover, those who
wrongfully take advantage of this law are abusing our country's
generosity and creating gross inequities in our immigration system.
Economic immigrants from many other countries in our hemisphere who
waited in line to come to the United States do not understand why
Cubans, who openly admit they have come for economic opportunities,
enjoy these privileges.
Reportedly, some Cubans qualify for public-assistance benefits in the
United States and then move back to Cuba. Many of them receive more in
benefits than retired Americans who have worked in this country for decades.
On Oct. 8, I met with senior White House staff involved in immigration
and Cuba policy. I requested that meeting in a good-faith effort for
cooperation to try to address abuses of the CAA and avoid a possible
migrant crisis. The goal was to find common ground for a legislative
While acknowledging the abuses, the officials echoed Secretary of State
John Kerry's words that the Obama administration, "has no plans
whatsoever to alter the current migration policy."
The president's refusal to do anything to address abuses of the CAA is
unfortunate. His inaction is inviting the Castro regime to instigate
another migrant crisis, when he instead should be working with Congress
to fix the law's deficiencies. That crisis may be quickly approaching.
According to reports, many Cubans have been fleeing the island via
government-owned and operated planes en route to Ecuador or Guyana,
where visas are not required of them. From there, they make the long
trek through Central America and Mexico in an attempt to enter the
United States through our southern border. In too many cases, they put
themselves at the mercy of despicable human-trafficking rings.
Additionally, the leftist Sandinista government of Nicaragua has likely
conspired with the Castro regime to close and militarize its southern
border, creating a refugee crisis in Costa Rica.
Just like Mariel in 1980 and the 1994 Cuban-migrant crisis, the regime
appears to be manufacturing a new crisis in order to extract even more
concessions from the Obama administration.
Since President Obama's Dec. 17 "engagement" announcement last year, the
Castro regime has been engaged in an unapologetic crackdown on its
people. Almost 7,000 political arrests have been made against dissidents
and pro-democracy activists. During the same period, there has been a
78-percent spike in Cubans arriving in the United States. Costa Rican
authorities have reported that the number of Cubans entering their
country illegally has grown to 15,391 so far this year from 5,400 in 2014.
It is clear that many Cubans are responding to the idea of a normal
relationship between their oppressors and the United States with fear
and desperation, leading many to risk their safety and their lives to
escape the prison that is Castro's Cuba.
I am concerned about what this may mean for South Florida. The spirit of
the CAA continues to be relevant and is needed to provide refuge for
Cubans fleeing the Castro regime. I will continue to work on curbing its
abuses while ensuring this important pathway to freedom remains
available so that, "Those who seek refuge here in America will find it."
U.S. REP. CARLOS CURBELO REPRESENTS FLORIDA'S 26TH CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT.
Source: Keep the Cuban Adjustment Act, but clamp down on its abusers |
Miami Herald - http://www.miamiherald.com/opinion/op-ed/article47024900.html