Notes on Cuban
migration and the Cuban Adjustment Act
In 1965, U.S. President Lyndon B. Johnson's administration negotiated an
agreement with the Cuban government resulting in the first of what were
called "Freedom Flights" in the United States. As the MIAMI HERALD, no
friend of the Cuban Revolution commented, "That now-historic flight is
credited with opening the floodgates to the first continuous, legal wave
of Cuban refugees, a steady flow that would change Miami and help build
up Little Havana and the Cuban exile community.
The twice-a-week flights
ended in 1973." In the late 1970s, Bernardo Benes, a Jewish
Cuban-American exile and strong opponent of the Cuban government,
operating with the cooperation and under the supervision of the U.S.
government, met and negotiated the release of 3500 Cubans who soon found
their way to the United States, with no difficulty. This shows it's been
possible for the United States to negotiate with the Cuban government
the peaceful, uneventful departure of large numbers of Cubans to the
United States. So why do we regularly read, in the Miami media,
heart-rending and tragic stories of desperate Cubans being returned to
Cuba by the United States government? We ALSO read about large numbers
of other Cubans who arrive, as if by magic, on U.S. soil, and are made
welcome by the people in charge of the borders of the United States of
America. Some additional material about Cuban migration to the United
States can be found at the bottom of this page. I'll try to update it as
new materials become available..
CHICAGO TRIBUNE: Rethinking the Cuba perk
Special immigration status draws fire [2013 EDITORIAL]
We have no problem with allowing Cuban-Americans to travel back and
forth to Cuba. Congress ought to kill the travel ban entirely, so that
all Americans can visit the island. Tourists from other countries have
been flocking to "terrorist" Cuba for years.
But it's hard to argue that Cubans who can come and go as they please
are in need of special considerations normally reserved for victims of
political repression. One does not flee communism
only to return repeatedly with a suitcase full of money and merchandise
for the family.
U.S.-Cuba Policy: A Boon for Cuban-American Entrepreneurs
by Saul Landau and Nelson Valdes (2013)
Cuban-Americans, particularly from south Florida, now export goods
and remittances to relatives and friends while importing profits from
sales made to fellow Cubans in Cuba, giving them an advantage denied to
the rest of the country.
Washington pundits attribute superhuman strength to the anti-Castro
lobby; thus no President would attempt to lift the trade and travel
embargoes on the island. Yet Cuban-Americans trade with and travel to
Cuba freely on a daily basis. The "embargo" applies to everyone except
Camouflaged by ubiquitous anti-Castro rhetoric, the Cuban-American
entrepreneurs have manufactured a lucrative business with the island,
regulated by the very government they pretend to hate. The rightwing
congressional representatives pretend to fight for every law to punish
the "Castro regime" while in practice turn a dead eye to the growing
trade that helps Florida's and Cuba's economy. Preserve the embargo, but
make an exception for Cuban Americans.
By recognizing the facts about this trade, the
White House might become inspired to lift the embargo -- a move to
benefit all Americans. U.S. government revenue would grow from opening
trade and travel with Cuba. In the process we might also regain a
missing piece of U.S. sovereignty!
The Paradoxes of Cuban Immigration
by Fernando Ravsberg
The opening of Cuba immigration policy could be a mortal blow to the
Cuban Adjustment Act, the US law that grants residency to all Cubans who
step onto American soil, under the assumption that they fled communism.
Hundreds of thousands of economic emigrants from the island settled in
the US, primarily in Miami, thanks to this legislation that assumes all
of them were politically persecuted, even though many of them return to
Cuba every year on vacation.
Cuba's Updated Migration Policy Totally Confounds the United States
and the Micro-Republic of Miami
Following the recent reform of Cuba' migration policy, the island's
inhabitants will no longer be required to obtain permission to travel
abroad from the authorities. Cubans may also remain out of the country
for twenty-four consecutive months and even extend their stay should
they wish. (November 2012)
Rep. David Rivera, R-Fla., had a hearing Thursday on his proposed
changes to the Cuban Adjustment Act. The Miami lawmaker wants to change
the law to prohibit Cubans who claim political asylum in the United
States from returning to the island nation. The proposal would revoke
the residency status of any Cuban national who returns to Cuba after
receiving political asylum and residency in the United States under the
Cuban Adjustment Act.
Rafters: The return trip Wednesday, 22 December 2010 12:37
By Jesús Arboleya Cervera
Wall Street Journal:
U.S. Offers Refuge to Cubans, Even if they're Not from Cuba (2009)
AP: Fewer Cubans make crossing to Fla; economy cited (August 2009)
Cubans enter United States in large numbers (August 2007)
Cuban Migrants Confront Harsher U.S. Tactics at Sea (Wall Street
Haitians Without Adjustment Act (Granma)
Does the US have a Generous Refugee Policy?
For asylum seekers, a fickle system
Tom Miller, author of Trading with the Enemy:
Immigrants just want to be treated like Cubans.
Author Tom Miller comments on how organizers of the immigration protests
are unknowingly asking to be treated like Cubans who manage to reach the
U.S. (Broadcast on NPR's "Latino USA" May 5-11, 2006)
Author Tom Miller comments on how organizers of the immigration protests
are unknowingly asking to be treated like Cubans who manage to reach the
U.S. Listen in MP3 Format
TRANSCRIPT OF Tom Miller's comments:
Here the entire 30-minute program: [no longer works. sorry!]
Immigration debate misses big exception
By RHONDA B. GRAHAM
March 30, 2006 (see below for complete text)
The Cuban Adustment Act and Immigration Policies (undated)
Havana. April 24, 2006
CUBAN EMIGRATION All the same?
Granma looks at the different kinds of Cubans who've left the island:
April 4, 2006
A CubaNews translation. Edited by Walter Lippmann
Cuban Adjustment Act Strikes Again (April 15, 2006)
But where are the Cubans?
MAX LESNIK (*)
U.S.-based Cubans were nowhere to be found. It was only too obvious.
Unlike hundreds of thousands of Hispanics of various origins who took to
the streets in many cities across the country in mass protest
demonstrations to demand an immigration law allowing them to become
legal residents here, the Cubans stayed at home, unconcerned about other
people’s problems as if the privileges they enjoy under the so-called
"Cuban Adjustment Act" makes them better than the other 37 million
Hispanic – both legals and illegals – living in the United States.
Let us not claim that we have been deceived. All things considered, it
is nobody’s secret that there is no love lost between those Cubans who
call themselves "political exiles" and the millions of Hispanics from
other nations of this continent who also live in the United States. And
rightly so, since Cubans here are seen as "pro-Yankee, overbearing"
persons who look down on the rest of Latin Americans and contemptuously
label them as "natives", whereas they, the Cubans, believe they are more
American than the Americans themselves – the voice of their master, like
the little dog in the RCA Victor logo –, at all times willing to do the
dirty work indicated by the U.S. government of the moment in exchange
for those perks they boast as the Empire’s putative children.
All in all, such widely held opinion about us Cubans is unfair taking
into account there are certainly many Cubans, perhaps the exception that
confirms the rule, who provide manifest solidarity with the just cause
of those millions of Latin Americans who are now demanding their right
to work and live in peace with their families in this nation of
immigrants. For instance, we in the Alianza Martiana have always
been in the front line to defend the civil rights of every Latin
American living in the U.S., barring none. Venezuelans, Cubans,
Peruvians, Colombians, Nicaraguans, Haitians, Mexicans, Argentineans,
Ecuadorians, Bolivians, Panamanians, Dominicans, Chileans and Caribbean
citizens, in two words, Americans all, have brought our flags together
as often as duty has called to join our brothers and sisters from the
Continent south of Rio Grande.
So where are the Cubans who live here, now when the streets are crowded
with Hispanics demanding justice for their cause? Well, here we are.
True, there are not many of us different to those self-proclaimed
‘children of the Empire’. But we’re another class of Cubans, in
sufficient numbers to cry out loud, paraphrasing José Martí, that when
there many men without honor, there are others who have the honor of
many men. Hear me, Latin Americans fighting for a place under the sun of
the American nation, here in the United States there are Cubans by your
(*) President of Alianza Martiana in Miami
Cuba and Emigration: The Myth of Refugees
By Istvan Ojeda Bello
Periodico 26 (Las Tunas, Cuba)
February 16, 2006
Against all odds, France is hardening its laws to prevent Cubans from
requesting asylum in that country. But something doesn't quite fit.
Europe, as the self-proclaimed archetype for protecting the rights of
"refugees," always welcomes those who are trying to escape persecution,
and Cubans are supposedly "desperate" to flee the island.
Nonetheless, a newswire from France's AFP news agency leaves no doubt:
"The National Association of Borders for Foreigners on February 8
denounced the policy of France's Interior Ministry that discreetly but
firmly "closes the door" on Cubans seeking asylum.
As of January 2006, Cubans passing through transit areas in French
airports must have a special visa allowing them to be in those areas.
In the same report, AFP makes it clear that these visas are difficult to
obtain and that travelers will not be allowed to board planes without
receiving these visas in advance.
By adopting this measure, France places Cubans among a group of 30
foreign nationalities that must obtain this type of visa to travel to a
This clearly shows that France does not regard the tired old equation of
"Cuban emigrant = Cuban refugee." No matter how you look at it, it is
evident that Jacques Chirac's government has finally discovered what has
always been patently obvious.
From Pro-Batista Tycoons to Rafters and Mariel Boat People
The meaning of the term "Cuban emigration" has changed in the course of
the history of Cuba-US relations. Over the years, the Cuban community in
the United States has changed. At first Cuban emigrants were made up of
landowners, businesspeople, politicians from the Fulgencio Batista
dictatorship and nearly 3,000 war criminals that fled the island after
the dictatorship was overthrown by Fidel Castro. Over time this has
changed to emigrants who go the United States for a variety of reasons.
The year 1980 marked a turning point in this respect, when 125,000
Cubans, usually called "Marielitos" in reference to the fact that they
emigrated by way of boats that came from the US to pick them up at the
Mariel port in western Cuba. Their nickname is a reminder to American
society that they were considered different from their predecessors. The
same happened with the "rafters," that is, those who came to the US by
homemade rafts after 1994.
After the triumph of the Cuban revolution, the position of several US
administrations has been inconsistent with the traditional manner with
which the rest of Latin American communities in the United States have
While for Dominicans, Puerto Ricans, and especially Mexicans and
Haitians, Washington's laws have increasingly meant fewer possibilities
to integrate into American society, for Cubans the policy has been quite
During the 1960s, the United States spent over a billion dollars on the
Cuban Refugee Program, which sought to help settle, find jobs, and cover
the expenses of any Cuban who arrived in that country complaining about
socialism. Such a program far outstripped the opportunities which
Polish, Hungarians, and other citizens from Eastern European countries
enjoyed during the Cold War period.
Since 1966, by virtue of the Cuban Adjustment Act, any Cuba who arrives
on US soil is eligible for permanent residency status in that country,
even though they may have hijacked an airplane or boat to achieve their
objective; even if this costs the lives of fellow passengers or crew
members. Prior to the skyjacking of airliners in the 1970s by radical
Muslim groups, several Cuban planes had been forced to land in the
United States. However, while the Islamic groups were described as
"terrorists," the Cubans were termed "refugees."
According to the US Department of Homeland Security, Cuba has gone from
the second step in the ladder of countries that send emigrants to the
United States to the tenth position by 2003, along with smaller
countries such as Jamaica, the Dominican Republic and El Salvador.
Despite that fact, the US Small Business Administration has for years
preferred to finance ventures by Cubans over other immigrant minorities,
Therefore, the Cuban Refugee Program, the Cuban Adjustment Act, and the
"goodwill" of small-business sponsors added to the millions dollars
stolen from the island by the first and true exiles has not only
contributed to the myth of the Cuban "refugees," but also to that of a
supposed "prosperity" of the Cuban community in the United States.
Although the statistics speak for themselves, the migration issue
between Cuba and the United States continues to be in the hands of
ultra-right-wing Cuba-Americans and the Neo-Conservatives, who are
trying to provoke a break in the migratory agreement adopted during
Clinton's administration. This had been the only constructive advance
made to achieve an orderly and safe flow of people between the two
If the agreements are still in place, it is because Havana has shown
itself to have the patience of Job, because US authorities continue to
admit all criminals who hijack Cuban aircraft or give slaps on the hands
to those involved in the lucrative and growing business of human
trafficking into the United States. Those actions have been geared to
provoke a migratory crisis in order to justify a military invasion of
The myth of the refugees was forged to support the counter-revolutionary
interest of discrediting the Cuban socialist model and was strengthened
by the application of strategies aimed at straining US-Cuba relations.
Washington's Weapon to Create a Migratory Crisis
By Andres Gomez, Director of Areitodigital
AIN, February 16, 2006
One of the consistent policies of Washington's aggression against Cuba
has been promoting legal and illegal emigration from the island to the
Since November 1966, 39 years ago, the Cuban Adjustment Act has been the
weapon by which the US has achieved this destabilizing policy. It has
not only been used to steal Cuba's scientists, professionals,
technicians and other skilled individuals --especially in the early
years of the Revolution--, but it has also served as a reserve weapon to
provoke a migratory crisis to justify an eventual US military
The Cuban Adjustment Act provides automatic permanent residency for
almost all Cubans arriving legally or illegally after one year and one
day in the US.
No immigrant from any other nation has this privilege.
At present, as always in the past, one of the main purposes of this
policy has been to attract illegal immigration from Cuba to use it in
the propaganda war against the Revolution.
The consequences of the illegal migration for those Cubans that attempt
to reach the US is of little concern, much less, for those that
criminally risk the lives of their small children in crossing the
At the end of the fiscal year which ended last September 30th, the US
Coast Guard Service reported having intercepted 2,712 Cubans at sea,
over double the 1,225 reported in 2004.
The figure for 2005 is the third highest of Cubans intercepted in the
Florida straights during the last 12 years. The highest had been
reported in 1993 with 3,656 and 1994 when over 30,000 Cubans emigrated
illegally due to the so called migratory crisis between the two
The 1994 and 1995 migratory accords signed between Havana and
Washington, and which emerged due to the crisis in August 1994, are
still in effect. These, force the US to return all those intercepted at
sea by US authorities to Cuba, except the cases in which political
persecution could be proven to justify exile in the United States.
The accords were designed to discourage those that would consider
emigrating illegally by sea. But the Bush administration has
deliberately failed to comply with Washington's part of the agreements.
To the contrary, the White House has used it to provoke more illegally
departures from the island.
Although the Coast Guard says that only 2.5 percent of the Cubans
intercepted are granted political asylum, the public understanding, the
public perception in Cuba and among the Cuban community in Miami is not
And since that is not the perception, more and more people continue to
illegally leave the island by sea causing fatal consequences.
According to studies carried out by Cuban experts on the island, it is
estimated that at least 15 percent of those that attempt to cross the
sea die before reaching the US.
The figures given by the Coast Guard and by the Miami press are very
different, reporting only 39 confirmed deaths during the 2005 fiscal
year. However, during one regrettable incident alone, in August of last
year, 31 passengers on board a 28-foot speed boat leaving Matanzas were
The US Coast Guard reported that the interceptions in high seas have
been characterized as violent confrontations with authorities and by the
deaths of immigrants.
According to the same authorities, the Cubans are taken to the US on
speed boats by a network of criminals specialized in human trafficking,
former drug traffickers, based in southern Florida which now find
contraband of humans more lucrative than drugs.
These criminals charge 8 to 12 thousand dollars per person, overcrowding
the small vessels. The majority of those that attempt to emigrate are
individuals that have relatives in the United States, others who do not
qualify to be considered as legal immigrants in the US, or those who do
not want to wait their turn in the annual quota, assigned under the
migratory treaties for legal immigrants.
As part of the systematic public campaign against Cuba, a spokesperson
from the State Department recently said that the new wave of illegal
Cuban immigrants is due to the increase of the regime's repressive
policies and the collapse of the Cuban economy.
Meanwhile, according to official figures, during the 2005 fiscal year,
3,612 Dominicans were picked up at high seas attempting to illegally
reach the US (900 more than Cubans intercepted) and in 2004, 3,229
Haitians were also picked up (2,000 more than the 1,225 Cubans that
The Brazilian daily O Globo recently published an article on illegal
immigrants in the US, quoting official sources, pointing out that during
the first semester of 2005, 27,396 Brazilians were stopped from
illegally crossing US borders, an average of 4,556 per month and 152 a
day. In 2004, a total of 1,160,000 foreigners, were stopped by
attempting to illegally enter the US, 93 percent of them (close to
1,080,000) were Mexicans.
It would be important to remind the US State Department that none of
those undocumented immigrants has a bit of socialism in their system;
because they are from client states of the US, whose economies cannot
collapse because they have always been in a state of ruin; and as is
publicly known, that all those nations suffer cruel repressive policies
whose victims are counted by the thousands per year. None of these
citizens can receive the benefits of the Cuban Adjustment Act if they
successfully enter the US illegally. On the contrary, they are
This despicable policy that uses Cubans, and above all their children,
as bait must come to an end.
The Cuban Adjustment Act should be repealed as well as an increase made
in the number of visas for those Cubans that want to emigrate legally
and comply with the requirements demanded by US regulations, thus
providing a safe and legal emigration for them and their children. The
US should also end the genocidal policy of blockade and other
aggressions and instead respect the rights of the Cuban people to live
and develop in peace.
Date: Thu Feb 16, 2006 9:36 am
Subject: Re: [CubaNews] IMPORTANT -
Cuba and Emigration: The Myth of Refugees
These are both very valuable articles, with two caveats:
1. The first article talks about Puerto Ricans, Mexicans etc. not
getting help in integrating into US economy and society. This is true,
but could give the impression that Puerto Ricans are an immigrant group
denied entry to the US. In fact, Puerto Rico as a country has trouble
GETTING AWAY from the US. Poor Puerto Ricans are not helped to integrate
into US society for the same reason that poor African-Americans have
such trouble. Poor Mexicans, Dominicans, Haitians, Salvadorans etc are
un-integrated in many cases because they are non-citizens, often without
legal papers to be in the country. In this respect, they are legally
much worse off than the Puerto Ricans.
2. Andres's statement that undocumented immigrants to the US from
countries other than Cuba don't have socialist bones in their bodies is
not necessarily, literally true (though it is true that the countries
from which they come are hardly socialist, so the point Andres is making
is correct). But it is certainly true that even being percieved as
having socialist or communist associations will prevent you from
immigrating to the US legally.
When a few years ago there was some legislation (I forget which)
affecting the extension of refugee status to Nicaraguans living
irregularly in the United States, the same status was denied to the
hundreds of thousands of Salvadorans and Guatemalans who found
themselves in the same boat.
In explaining this, Cuban-American ultra-right Congresscreatures Ileana
Ros-Lehtinin and Lincoln Diaz Balart were gauche enough to openly state
that they did not want Salvadorans and Central Americans to get such
status because the fact that they originally came here fleeing right
wing, US supported dictatorships proves they are not trustworthy,
whereas Nicaraguans "fleeing" from the left wing Sandinista government
were obviously better material for citizenship.
This is simply an extension of the attitude toward Cubans. By the way,
this led to the current crisis in the Salvadoran community here in which
there are 220,000 Salvadorans living in the United States under
"Temporary Protected Status", about to be terminated (in September) and
perhaps folded into President Bush's horrible "guest worker" program.
These Salvadorans had in many cases come here fleeing the wars and
dictatorships of the 1980s and early 1990s, had NOT been able to get
refugee status or political asylum because of the above mentioned
political considerations, and only were given this Temporary Protected
Status after implorations by the Salvadoran government subsequent to an
earthquake which destroyed much housing and infrastructure in El
The quid pro-quo of this is that El Salvador agrees to join CAFTA and
send troops to the war in Iraq. Last year, when it seemed that leftist
candidate Shafik Handal might win the Salvadoran presidential elections,
the United States put out the word that if that happened, the US might
end the Temporary Protected Status and deport all 220,000 Salvadorans
covered by it.
This would have been a double disaster for El Salvador because its
economy could not absorb the return of so many people needing jobs, and
because it would severely cut back the remittances Salvadorans in the US
send back to their families in El Salvador.
Whether because of these threats or not, right wing candidate Antonio
Saca won the presidency, and has just announced that he is sending more
Salvadoran troops to Iraq. If somewhat left of center candidate for the
Mexican presidency (election July 2) Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador
continues to lead in the polls, I would not be surprised to hear the US
making threats concerning Mexican immigrants also.
Salim Lamrani: The Case of the
The Freedom Fliers, Forty Years Later (February 2006)
Posted on Sat, Feb. 18, 2006
The freedom fliers, 40 years later
First passenger list
now a piece of history
BY LUISA YANEZ
José Anorga has taken many flights in his 67 years. But only one
dramatically changed his life: the one he took Dec. 1, 1965.
Anorga was onboard the inaugural Freedom Flight from Cuba to Miami -- a
flight that launched a U.S.-sponsored airlift that would give a new life
in exile to some 260,000 refugees.
''You never forget a flight that takes you away from your country.
That's a sad day,'' said Anorga, of Hollywood, who made the journey on
that Pan American plane with his pregnant wife, Rebeca, and their infant
daughter. ``From then on, our lives were different.''
That now-historic flight is credited with opening the floodgates to the
first continuous, legal wave of Cuban refugees, a steady flow that would
change Miami and help build up Little Havana and the Cuban exile
community. The twice-a-week flights ended in 1973.
Now, a piece of that exodus has resurfaced, offering a glimpse of the
This month, the Historical Museum of Southern Florida acquired the
passenger list for that first Freedom Flight. An anonymous donor made
''Its historical value is wonderful,'' said Dawn Hugh, the museum's
archives manager, of the donation. ``We're very happy to get it.''
The Freedom Flights were the result of a deal struck by President Lyndon
B. Johnson with Cuba in late 1965 to end an illegal boatlift from the
Cuban port of Camarioca.
Don't escape Fidel Castro on boats, come on planes, the U.S. told the
Cubans. And they did.
That first list of freedom fliers had 82 names, although only 75 landed
at Miami International Airport that chilly Wednesday morning in
News accounts show the refugees wearing their Sunday best and carrying
all their worldly belongings in suitcases. As they climbed out of the
plane, they were engulfed by a sea of relatives and reporters. Yellow
buses then took them to Opa-locka Airport for processing.
The existence of such a list leads to the question: What became of that
first group of Cubans? How did they fare in the U.S.?
The Anorgas and the other Cubans were hurled into a foreign country with
little warning. Anorga said he was notified by Cuban militia that he was
leaving the night before he flew out. ``One day I had my life there, the
next I was here.''
The passenger list now at the museum was part of a news release issued
by the U.S. Cuban Refugee Center, housed at the Freedom Tower in
downtown Miami. The eight-page release groups the refugees into family
units, gives their year of birth and the name and address of the
relative in the U.S. who would take them in.
Anorga remained in Miami with his brother. He landed a job at a Hialeah
factory, struggled, raised a family and is now retired. He still
treasures a photograph of his arrival at MIA that appeared in a
magazine. ''Me and my wife, we look so young,'' he said.
Other refugees that day were headed for places like New Jersey,
California and Illinois to reunite with relatives.
In honor of the 40th anniversary of the first Freedom Flight, The Miami
Herald is trying to locate others who were on board Flight #1.
Today, The Miami Herald is publishing the names and year of birth of the
refugees on Flight #1 as they appeared on the embarkation list. The
entire document can be viewed at MiamiHerald.com. under Today's Extras.
If you were on board that flight or know someone on the list,
contact Luisa Yanez at
lyanez@MiamiHerald.com or at 305-376-4627.
Immigration debate misses big
By RHONDA B. GRAHAM
An elephant-sized issue is being avoided amid the rallies and emotional
debates about illegal immigration currently preoccupying Americans.
If you're Mexican, you take your chances and cross through the deadly
desert of the 2,000-mile border separating your country from the United
States. If you're from Haiti, your best hope is that the Coast Guard
gets so absorbed in processing other refugees that you can escape before
the rifles come out and they start target practicing on your shabby
But, if you're from Cuba and can get your foot on American soil, your
citizenship is virtually instantaneous.
This discriminatory policy goes back to the 1960s when Fidel Castro's
communist rise to power was an embarrassing and threatening affront to
the American way of life. The 1966 Cuban Adjustment Act gave legal
residency to hundreds of thousands of mostly upper-class and educated
Cubans who fled the land and power grab of Castro's regime. In 1980
Castro willingly shipped over more. Most were criminals, unskilled
workers or mentally ill. Fearing the kind of crush that now undergirds
the arguments of immigration opponents, the Clinton Administration came
up with the current "wet foot/dry foot" policy after thousands of Cubans
begin arriving on crude rafts, boats and inner tubes in the 1990s. More
than 37,000 Cubans were rescued from the Atlantic Ocean. A 1994 policy
only turns back those who couldn't make it to dry land.
Since last week more than half a million illegal immigrants and
supporters demonstrated against a U.S. House bill that sets severe
restrictions on access to citizenship and harsh penalties for employers,
clergy and even doctors who offer assistance to illegal immigrants.
Los Angeles, Chicago, Denver, Phoenix and Milwaukee saw flag-waving
throngs from most Latin American countries, but in southern Florida,
where the Cuban community predominates, protests were sparse. An
immigration activist told a local newspaper he was surprised that only
about 500 protesters gathered outside Miami's federal immigration
headquarters last Thursday. Nearly all were Haitians.
Local and national Latinos privately acknowledge the awe that Cubans.
They see how a citizenship guarantee helps the social and political
influence of a culture to gain dominance. From the California farm
worker to the Colorado firefighter and New Mexico roofer, you hear the
admiration for Cuban-American's ability to pull off what other countries
have been unable to provide.
But there is also a silent confusion and some even say resentment at
such privilege. Non-Cubans are surviving among the shadowy communities
of illegal work forces. This reality makes avoiding deportation a
priority over picking a fight about the favoritism your cultural
brothers and sisters enjoy.
Despite the legislative rancor, it's clear that a new immigration law
will be fashioned before the mid-term elections. The business community
will likely get its way on guest worker permits, while hardliners will
get some secure-border-measure for the Minuteman militia to test.
Driver's licenses and English-language requirements seem possible.
Still, it will be a serious mistake for our political leaders to ignore
the special status that a small percentage of the Latino population
Such is the result of the "dry feet/wet feet" policy, rooted in the
outdated 1966 act. It goes against what we tell fleeing masses about
American democracy. At best it insures the full benefit of citizenship
to a desperate few. At worst, it smacks of state-sanctioned, ethnic
prejudice creating a caste system among Latinos and other wannabe
Contact Rhonda B. Graham, a News Journal editorial writer, at
20062006, The News Journal. Use of this site signifies your
agreement to the
Terms of Service and
Secret Missions to Cuba: Fidel Castro, Bernardo Benes,
and Cuban Miami, by Robert M. Levine (New York, Palgrave, 2001)