End False Refugee Status for Cubans

3093235732_5822e65b68_oFlorida’s Sun-Sentinel newspaper has taken an editorial stance similar to FAIR’s position that the special immigration status for Cubans should be ended. The paper called for an end to the ‘wet-foot-dry-foot’ policy adopted by President Clinton. That policy allows any Cuban who illegally enters the United States to be admitted, and the Cuban Adjustment Act enacted in 1966 allows those Cubans to become legally admitted refugees one year later.

That special treatment of Cubans is a Cold War hangover that was easier to defend as a repudiation of the spread of communism and ideological repression in Cuba at the time it was adopted. But, it has been indefensible since the Iron Curtain fell. Some Cubans may still merit treatment as refugees if they are persecuted for opposing the regime, but that does not apply to the vast majority of Cubans benefitting from the special treatment.

The Statistical Abstract of Immigration Statistics lists 4,205 Cubans admitted as refugees in 2013 (the latest data available). But the flow is much larger. The total number of refugee and asylee green cards issued was 25,361. The asylees are those who were already in the country and changed their status to legal residence. Once the Cubans gain refugee status they become eligible to start sponsoring relatives for immigrant visas. An additional about 5,500 Cubans arrived in that way.

The Sun-Sentinel has another issue with the treatment of the illegally arriving Cubans. Because, they are accorded refugee status, they are made eligible to receive a broad array of welfare benefits such as Medicaid, food stamps, and SSI (similar to Social Security but for those who have not contributed the 40 quarters to be eligible for normal retirement benefits).

The paper says that these welfare benefits are the main reason the Cubans are arriving – not because they are fleeing repression. And the paper notes that the faux refugees are often returning to Cuba with money saved from welfare benefits, thereby putting the lie to the image of fleeing persecution. The paper put the amount of welfare payments being paid to Cuban expatriates at $680 million per year not including Medicaid benefits. The paper also notes that ending the magnets that draws Cubans is politically sensitive, making it extremely difficult to change these deeply entrenched policies.

avatar About Jack Martin

Jack, who joined FAIR in 1995, is a retired U.S. diplomat with consular experience. He has testified before the U.S. Congress, U.S. Civil Rights Commission, and U.S. Commission on Immigration Reform and has authored studies of immigration issues. His national and international print, TV, and talk radio experience is extensive (including in Spanish).

Comments

  1. avatar Judy Mantello says:

    ALL FORMS OF IMMIGRANTION NEED TO STOP COMPLETELY! NO MORE ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS, NO MORE LEGAL IMMIGRANTS, NO MORE REFUGEE’S FROM ANY COUNTRY AND THAT MEANS FROM CUBA AS WELL.

    AMERICA IS OVER FLOWING AND OBAMA HAS KEPT OUR BORDERS OPEN. WE NOW HAVE ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS FROM ALL OVER THE WORLD BECAUSE OF OBAMA AND HIS OPEN BORDERS.

    WE HAVE MUSLIMS THAT HAVE TAKEN OVER THE STATE OF MICHIGAN AND WISCONSIN. AMERICAN CITIZENS NEED TO BE VERY WORRIED AND CONCERNED ABOUT THE SAFETY OF OUR COUNTRY.

    IN 20 YEARS AMERICA WILL BE A HORRIBLE PLACE TO LIVE. I AM SO FEARFUL FOR MY CHILDREN & GRANDCHILDREN.

    WE MUST ALL VOTE THIS NEXT ELECTION BECAUSE VOTER FRAUD WILL WIN IT FOR THE DEMOCRATS

    I SUPPORT TED CRUZ FOR PRESIDENT BECAUSE HE IS THE MOST CONSERVATIVE OF ANY ONE. BUT IF I HAVE TO, I ‘WILL’ VOTE FOR DONALD TRUMP TO GET ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS FROM ALL COUNTRIES OUR OF OURS!

  2. avatar Leland says:

    The real dissidents are the people who never left and did lengthy prison sentences under harsh and abusive conditions imposed on them by the Castros, something that those who insist on fawning over the brothers ignore. Those people are a very small minority.

    This going back to Cuba by those supposedly targeted by the regime has been going on for decades. There is also a huge amount of hypocrisy in the Cuban community when they insist that the embargo be maintained, but they make sure their relatives in Cuba get money from them. The embargo has done nothing but give the Castros an excuse to explain away their economic failures.