Wednesday, October 7, 2009

If they’re gonna vote for Obama and travel to Cuba, let ’em stay in Cuba

Hans de Salas del Valle of the University of Miami’s Cuba Transition Project and Institute for Cuban and Cuban-American Studies has written a remarkable paper on Cuban immigration to the United States. He makes no policy recommendations but makes it pretty clear that he wants to see far fewer Cubans coming to America.

El Nuevo Herald covered it today and provides a link to the paper itself; Alejandro Armengol comments in his blog here.

The paper is remarkable because it is so political, even partisan in its approach. It’s even more remarkable because it is a blunt appeal to resentment of immigrants that one sees made against immigrant communities, but never within an immigrant community.

But there’s the rub – because in de Salas’ view, “post-Soviet Cuban migrants” don’t fit in the community, el exilio historico. They travel back and forth to Cuba, they “will increasingly break with the historic Cuban-American exile community’s conservative principles and allegiances” and “could transform the once Republican bastion of Cuban Miami into a new Democratic enclave.”

I’m all for reviewing U.S. policy toward Cuban immigrants, which is an anomaly in more ways than one can count. If you believe in the embargo as an instrument of pressure, it takes away that pressure by giving discontented Cubans a way out. The “dry-foot” policy, which is not required by law, allows Cubans who arrive here without a visa to come right in even if they have no basis for asylum or refugee status. The quick, nearly automatic admission of nearly all Cubans makes a mockery of the “state sponsor of terrorism” designation. The policy extends immigration privileges to people who were born and lived their lives outside Cuba, but have Cuban parents. It gives Cuban doctors serving on missions abroad a pass to come to the United States, even if they could remain without trouble in a country of first asylum. It allows Cubans who apply to immigrate on the basis of family unification to come on an expedited basis, an option not available to other nationalities. And, as de Salas documents (partially), it gives Cuban immigrants the package of government benefits that go to refugees, even though the vast majority of Cuban immigrants do not have refugee status. Given all that, de Salas seems alarmed that so many Cubans come each year, legally and otherwise – but if those policies were in place toward any other nearby country with economic troubles, wouldn’t the result be the same?

Here’s the partisan part: In de Salas’ paper, there are just two villains behind these policies: Presidents Clinton and Obama. But the U.S.-Cuba migration accords, negotiated by President Clinton, were maintained and observed by President Bush. And the benefits and privileges listed above have sat pretty well with Cuban Miami’s “conservative principles and allegiances,” to say nothing of the fact that they have been supported by Miami Congressional representatives and paid for by Administrations and Congresses of both parties.

If the policy is a tangled mess, it’s a bipartisan mess, and it’s one that could not have come into being without the support of Miami’s representatives.

As for resentment, de Salas claims that Cuban immigrants cost too much in government benefits, their “demographic effects will overwhelm South Florida’s low-wage service-oriented labor market,” they will “strangulate” South Florida transportation, and aggravate unemployment.

He says not a word about immigrants’ contributions to the U.S. economy.

He doesn’t match Benjamin Franklin’s famous denunciation of German immigrants in the 18th century – “Not being used to Liberty, they know not how to make a modest use of it” – but de Salas writes this:

“A political bonus for Havana will be the influential role of post-Soviet Cuban immigrant voters in Florida who may turn out in even larger numbers for Obama and the Democrats in the 2010 and 2012 elections after a seismic shift to the left among Cuban-American voters in November 2008, when 47 percent of the Cuban electorate in Florida voted for Obama. In so doing Castro’s own rebellious ‘children of the Revolution’ may paradoxically constitute a highly influential constituency in U.S. presidential politics which, while furthering their own collective self-interest in traveling freely and remitting financial resources to relatives in Cuba, will also serve Havana’s purposes by bolstering prospects for the unilateral lifting of the U.S. embargo and normalization of relations before the end of Obama’s expected second term in office, which Cuba will do everything possible to support.”

The paper’s sense of alarm is driven by the contention that President Obama’s policies will cause higher levels of Cuban immigration.

More will come, the argument goes, because they know their visits home will not be restricted. To the contrary, one could speculate that fewer will come because under the Obama policies, Cubans will feel less isolated from their family members abroad and will receive more economic support from them.

This paper is one researcher’s opinion, so it probably says little about the future of an immigration policy that has been settled for years. But it draws a sharp line between earlier generations of exiles and more recent immigrants, and its message to newcomers from the island is pretty clear: Not only do we not agree with you, we don’t want to see you here.


Anonymous said...

If Cuban vox populi inteprets this paper as a potential end of the Cuban Adjustment Act, expect an increase in rafter activity!

Vecino de NF

Anonymous said...

wow, can't believe this dope can even write a paper. Does he really work for Univ. of Miami? usually educated folk aren't that non-tolerant.

wow, immigrants turning on their own, just b/c have different vision of world (and want to visit their day , wow who would have thunk)

I will visit my family in havana several times every year. Thanks to obama I can now do it and not feel like a criminal.

So salas logic is as follows: I guess since Salas buys gasoline he supports middle eastern terrorists, much like my visits to varadero with my family (lovely!) support the 'regime'
ha! see you in varadero!

leftside said...

Ouch. De Salas' paper was certainly partisan and anti-immigrant in spirit, but I actually did not find a lot of policy conclusions in the paper. Mostly it was a listing of sobering facts that old hardliners need to come to grips with. They irony that they have marginalized themselves with their pro-migration policies is actually quite poetic.

I thought this stat was striking though:

As of 2008, more than 56 percent of Cuban immigrants who had arrived in the U.S. within the last year or so remained either unemployed, underemployed, inactive or otherwise marginally attached to the mainstream economy.

Like many supposedly sophisticated analysts, he argues Cuba uses migration against the US - that it is a "coercive instrument" to be deployed. This imagines that Fidel could make people get in a raft and leave. Or that Fidel designed the dry foot policy and Adjustment Act. or is paying the ($320 million/year) public subsidy. We just saw Cuba say that repealing WF/Dry Foot and Cuba Adj. Act is a high priority. Why would they want to repeal something that is a "coercive instrument" against the US?

swampthing said...

Two thumbs down for this line of thought - the audacity of dopes.

With all due respect, ask our fancy-named Hans de Salas del Valle, how did he get here? Was he always an intolerant assimilationist?

This Ronald McReagan raconteur would blindly turn on his own mother if she were to break with the party of Bushed jeb and w.

Back when Hans was an aspiring professor, there were plenty of cuban democrats... until bush sr. and his c.i.a. orchestrated the bay of pigs blunder, duped shocked and battered cuban refugees turned republican.

Hans, good to work at Belen.
El Herald, good for wrapping fish.

Anonymous said...

the embargo as an instrument of pressure -- no, an instrument of one country interfering with the sovereignty of another -- nothing more, nothing less

the wave of immigrants from cuba from the past 20 years are of course dramatically different from the first generation. they will, and are, having an impact in moderation. and the more the old generation dies off, the more they will claim the new definition of exile.

anything that moves the dialogue along to a real understanding and change in cuban-american relations is a positive thing. de salas has helped that dialogue, whether you agree with it or not.

change results in unexpected consequences. let's keeping moving it along. end the travel restrictions now and see what happens to the hard-liners on both sides.

Anonymous said...

De Salas 's paper is very homophobic towards the new generation of Cuban immingrants. It is a shame that he did not point out that one of the reasons why I was born in communism was because " the historical exile" left cowardly, letting Castro prevail. Among the many reasons why REVOLUTIONS happen is because of the social disparities among social classes. So , I would say that the Cuban historical exile is very much responsible for communism in Cuba. Since most of the "Cuban historical exiled" was part of the Cuban elite , they had the means to rebel against Castro , unlike "us" the new generation that has never met a different social system.Besides, U.S is a democracy and here human rights , and the right of movement is respected. How shameful that you are a professor! Intellectuals should be opened minded and progressivist individuals. Shame on the univeristy of Miami for hiring dogmatic professors that sabotage true reality.

Anonymous said...

Not worth reading De Salas' paper, completely biased! If he were a president , he would be as dictatorial as Castro.His intolerance and anti-democratic values are shown all throughout the paper.

Anonymous said...

Penultimos Días listed a link that claims that Fidel Castro Ruz' grandchildren (children of Fidel Castro Diaz Balart) have established themselves in Europe (the daughter in Spain, and the son in Germany). That link also claims that Fidel Castro Jr. is emigrating to Chile. It is fair to conclude that the current Cuban immigrants are different from those that emigrated in the past.

Vecino de NF

Anonymous said...

I must agree with De Salas. Other than claiming the same country of birth, I have little to nothing in common with the migrants. There is nothing in this paper I did not already know, or have come to terms with. I know what the future holds for the Cubans of Miami, and I simply choose to say I am American before I am Cuban. It is sad, I know. Give democracy a chance in a liberated Cuba and I still do not see much success for the Cuban race. Between the return of the migrants and the current inhabitants, they will only burn down the island. Cuba has been cursed, I tell you, cursed.

Anonymous said...

Why not discuss Cuba's internal immigrants - the palestinos? And you think the balseros are bad!

The palestinos are willfully violating the Revolutionary Laws by sneaking into La Habana. Honest Revolutioanries are appalled by their insidious black marketeering and endless hustling for jobs, undermining the wise legislation of the Revolutionary Authorities.

Lefty, Johnny Boy McAuliff and AC, I we should form a Worker's Militia to make short work of these palestino ingrates. Is the execution stake at Baracoa Beach still standing? If not, we could use the old fosa en La Cabanya, although this might be a bit awkward during the annual Book Fair, with the noise and all those hysterical palestina mothers gathering outside the gates, whining about the fate of their criminal progeny! Away with them, Lefty, AC and I say!

leftside said...

Boy, if we only had an experiment to know how the Revolution in fact WAS dealing with the (few thousand) "palestinos." Or how los palestinos compare to... say those in the favelas of Rio. Who's Government assures them access to health, water, education, jobs, services, culture?

Anonymous said...

We the exiles and the children of exiles know in our hearts that "our" Cuban culture dies with us. We love a place that only exists in our hearts, memories, pictures and youtube videos. The immigrants (who we help, the second they land here) sadly have nothing in common with us except their birth place. It is truly heartbreaking.

Anonymous said...

"Or how los palestinos compare to... say those in the favelas of Rio. Who's Government assures them access to health, water, education, jobs, services, culture?"

In Brazil is not a crime for the inhabitants of favelas to tell the truth about their life experience. And they have the right to vote for candidates who promise positive change, such as Lula. And it is not a crime in Brazil to look for a job that pays a salary, however meager, in real money, not the Monopoly money issued by the Castro brothers.

And how many favela dwellers are jumping on rafts to go to Cuba?

leftside said...

And what Palestino has been arrested for "telling the truth about their life experiences?"

And yes, you can vote for any number of parties in Brazil that promise change. But even someone with great potential like Lula was unable to make any significant social progress for its poor peope. Updated UNDP Human Development Index statistics reveal that Brazil's people made the LEAST strides in terms of their development since 2000 (health, education, women's rights, access to water, etc.) than ANY other country in Latin America.

What countries showed the largest gains for its people? Venezuela, Honduras and Guatemala. What Latin American country's citizens gained the most in the last year? Venezuela (2nd most in the world, after China).

Anonymous said...

Of course you guys "have little to nothing in common with today Cuban immigrants". You did not go through all the hardships and economic misery that we did. In addition, it is very hypocritical that you do not want us to migrate when you all did. So , your logic is like do I what I say but not what I do. I would recommend to all of those that discriminate against Cuban immigrants to go there and experience their reality for one week. But please leave all your dollar bills at home.Then , I hope you come back admiring the Cuban people who struggle everyday to make a living.

Anonymous said...

Please visit the following website for a better understanding of the Cuban reality.
ps: don't agree with De Salas

Anonymous said...

"And what Palestino has been arrested for "telling the truth about their life experiences?" "

On Planet Leftside freedom of expression exists in the First Free Territory of the Americas, just as in North Korea, Iran, Zimbabwe and Venezuela. "Oceania is at war with East Asia. Oceania has always been at war with East Asia."

Matty D, you are a piece of work.

Anonymous said...

On Planet Leftside, Cubans are allowed to tell the truth about their life experiences.