Thursday, August 18, 2011

Cuban migration

Anya Landau French at The Havana Note analyzes the current push by hardline anti-Castro Congressman David Rivera to reform the Cuban Adjustment Act.  Currently, Cubans who reach the United States can become permanent residents after staying here for a year.  He wants that to be five years, and prohibit them from returning to Cuba in the meantime.  His rationale is that the law was intended to help political refugees, and if you are returning to Cuba quickly, clearly you are not facing persecution.

Actually, this makes some sense, but as she notes he does not take this to its logical conclusion, which is scrapping the Cuban Adjustment Act altogether:

So far, not even Rivera yet dares threaten the Cuban Adjustment Act and the benefits (which come with taxpayer-funded U.S. government benefits, by the way) afforded to Cuban Americans under it.  Ask Rivera and he'll say it should stay in place because the "political situation [in Cuba] remains the same today," as it did when the Act was passed.  But of course it hasn't remained the same; Cuban Americans aren't exiles the way they used to be.  And it is precisely those changed political circumstances that led Rivera to introduce his bill.

Here's a question someone should and surely will put to the Congressman and his supporters of this ridiculous idea: if you're so worried about Cubans who emigrate from Cuba to the U.S. under the Cuban Adjustment Act returning 366 days later, "abusing" a law intended for refugees who couldn't return home, and these emigrants clearly don't fit the bill because they go home all the time (Thanks a lot, Obama!), why don't you simply propose repeal of the Cuban Adjustment Act?
Why not?  Because that would mean admitting that Cubans are no longer FLEEING Cuba.  And if America admits that the Cuban people are no longer fleeing the island as political refugees but are now mainly economic migrants - like, I don't know, Mexican migrants - then the foundation for this anachronistic and wasteful policy would surely crumble. 

Even our immigration policy is rooted in an anachronistic view of Cuba.  The vast majority of Cubans are coming for economic reasons, not political, and therefore we should treat them in the same manner as we do all other migrants (I think we should do so more rationally and humanely for all, but that is another story).  The Cold War is over.  Way, way over.

Regardless, Rivera is facing serious ethics investigations so may not be around for too long anyway.


leftside 2:14 PM  

The purpose of the Cuban Adjustment Act is to embarrass Cuba and encourage risky "escapes" by raft, which are then covered by the media. After all, we entice Cubans with something that no one else on the planet could ever encison - an easy path to permanent residency. Imagine if we made this offer to Haitians or Mexicans - those places would be empty in like 2 weeks.

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