Monday, October 24, 2016

NPR on Cuban Immigration

NPR has a story on Cubans trying to get to the U.S., fearing (reasonably) that immigration policy may soon change. However, it's a misleading story.

The headline is "Improved U.S.-Cuba Relations Are Creating a Surge of Cuban Migrants." This confuses proximal and distal causes. The proximate cause is the shift in U.S. policy, but the underlying problem is not Obama's policy shift, but the dysfunctional Cuban Adjustment Act of 1966, which undergirds U.S. immigration policy. I think it's hard to argue that set foot/dry foot (which is a 1995 amendment to the law) functions well.

Further, I wonder about this:

You might assume that with the thawing of relations between Cuba and the U.S., Cubans would see positive change at home, and less reason to attempt the perilous water crossing to Florida. You'd assume wrong.

This is a straw man. No one thought there would be rapid change in Cuba, or claimed it would happen. Economically, the embargo blocks a lot of change, and even the changes happening now (flights, that sort of thing) take a long time to develop. The logic of opening up to Cuba was not based on the notion that Cuba would suddenly change. Instead, it focused on how current policy was completely ineffective no matter how you looked at it.

So basically Obama is blamed for how any effort to change U.S. policy runs up against a crappy law passed 50 years ago. The answer is better immigration policy. Sadly, this is a bad time to expect it.


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