Friday, January 25, 2013

Is the Cuban Adjustment Act in play?

Senator Marco Rubio, who is among the Republicans seeking consensus on a comprehensive reform of U.S. immigration policy, said last week (Café Fuerte) that it is “impossible” to treat this issue “and not talk about whether or not there should be changes in the Cuban Adjustment Act.”

Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, interviewed by Café Fuerte, said something similar.

So there may be a debate after all over the treatment of Cubans under U.S. immigration policy.

But apparently it will be a debate where Rubio and Ros-Lehtinen misrepresent that policy and the conduct of their constituents who take advantage of it.

Rep. Ros-Lehtinen argues that we need a law that prohibits Cuban immigrants who enter the United States by availing themselves of the Cuban Adjustment Act from returning to Cuba for visits.  “One can’t affirm that one would be persecuted for political reasons in Cuba and, at the same time, return for visits.”

Senator Rubio said, “If people come to this country seeking exile and then they are traveling to Cuba 10 or 12 times a year, then it makes it difficult for us to go back to Washington and justify the special status that Cubans have…this does put the Cuban Adjustment Act in danger.” 

The idea that Cubans admitted under the Cuban Adjustment Act “affirm that one would be persecuted for political reasons in Cuba” or “come to this country seeking exile” (whatever that means) is simply false. 

Rubio and Ros-Lehtinen are accusing their constituents of being hypocrites, based on a claim that these immigrants have never made. 

There are two categories of immigrants – refugees and asylees – who are admitted to the United States by claiming a fear of persecution if they were to return home, and after the United States judges that claim to be well founded.  If these people are admitted and then return home, they may face a legal problem because they effectively invalidate their claim of fear of persecution.

But very few Cubans enter the United States by claiming that they fear persecution if they were to return to Cuba. 

In 2011, only 2,954 Cubans were admitted as refugees or asylees.

The rest were admitted because U.S. policy is to grant about 20,000 immigrant visas a year to Cubans, or because they showed up at the border or made it to a U.S. shore (10,452 last year), or otherwise arrived without an immigrant visa and were “paroled” in pursuant to the Cuban Adjustment Act, which puts them on the path to a green card a year later. 

That’s 30,000 Cubans who entered last year without stating a claim to persecution. 

Senator Rubio has made no legislative proposal.  Rep. Ros-Lehtinen seems to follow the idea put forward by former Rep. David Rivera and echoed recently by some flamboyant Cuban-American groups who warned that a “red super-Mariel” may result from Cuba’s new migration law.  She talks of restricting travel of Cuban immigrants, adding a new U.S. restriction on the free movement of people at a time when Cuba’s 50-year restrictions are falling by the wayside.

It’s a great idea to debate this part of U.S. immigration policy, but someone else had better lead it.

For more, including comments by Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, see this article in El Nuevo Herald.


Anonymous said...

Dear Mr. Peters,

I agree with you that these are the wrong people to speak for the Cuban American community.

I also believe that the basic reason why they are reacting to the issue of the increased Cuban immigration is the fear that the right wing groups they represent will rapidly lose political control over the Cuban American community as a result of the Cuban government's migration reform.

One of the chief motivations for the Cuban government migration reform, by the way, was precisely its desire to do away with this right wing political control of the Cuban american minority in the US.

There were of course other motivations as well. Among them the desire to get more dollars by increasing the number of Cubans in the US.

Also to find a way get rid of the excess labor force in the island which was being subsidized and for which there were no available jobs.

But both the Cuban government and the emigre politicians reactions were also triggered by the approaching discussion in the US congress of migration reform in which both Cuban sides were aware that the Cuban Adjustment Act would come under scrutiny.


Anonymous said...

The coming US immigration reform debates placed the Cuban American politicians in a difficult position from which they are attempting to extract themselves by acting very craftily.

Although the Cuban Adjustment act talks about Cubans in general and does not mention political exiles or political asylees (Mr. Peters is right on that score) the Cuban right wing politicians are well aware that it was originally motivated by the desire to grant relief to persons that were fleeing from political persecution

They are also aware that many US politicians of non Cuban origin have questioned the wisdom of permitting access to the US to people apparently fleeing from political persecution that shortly afterwards, showed that this was not true by returning to Cuba to visit friends and relatives without any fear of being arrested and imprisoned.

The right wing Cuban politicians are thus in the position to state to the Cuban American Community "We tried to prolong the existence of the Cuban Adjustment Act so that you could continue to bring your relatives into the US but found that, due to the determined oposition of other US legislators, we could only try to do so by agreeing to place restrictions on the right of Cubans recently admitted to the US to travel to the island."

In this manner,whatever the outcome of the immigration debate, the Cuban American right wing politicians intend to protect themselves from the expected backlash vote of the recent Cuban American arrivals.

If the Cuban Adjustment Act is overturned, (with the Cuban American politicians tacit consent) they would argue that they tried to preserve it by placing travel restrictions on the recent arrivals, but that the other legislators were outraged by the recent immigrant's frequent visits to the island and as a result decided to reject the CAA.

That it it is not their fault that the CAA was rejected, that the Cuban American community brought this result upon themselves by refusing to heed their representatives warnings about the consequences of such behavior.

However, if the Cuban Adjustment Act is preserved with the travel restrictions the right wing Cuban American politicians desire, they would argue that this was the price that had to be paid to preserve it in the face of other US politicians opposition to excessive recent Cuban American immigration's travel to the island.

Either way, the negative effect of the coming US Immigration reform is not the Cuban American politician's fault but the responsibility of the Cuban American recent immigrant's behavior.


Anonymous said...

But in reality no matter, how hard Cuban American right wing politicians try, the expected backlash will be inevitable.

The recent immigrants will not accept anything less than the Cuban Adjustment Act in its present form which allows all Cubans to enter the US and to be able to travel to the island to visit their relatives and friends shortly afterwards without any sort of restrictions placed on them.

The Cuban american community also knows very well that there are no restrictions on their right to travel due to the modification in embargo regulations made by the Obama administration.

In politics it is perhaps inevitable that the general population would prioritize its short run benefits instead of long run results.

Due to this, the right wing Cuban politicians are in the unenviable position of being in a lose- lose position whatever course of action they follow.

No matter what they do, they are doomed to lose their political power soon.

If they do nothing and allow the Cuban Adjustment Act to continue in its present form the flood of new immigrants from the island will increase and a higher proportion of the Cuban American vote will go to the Democratic party and as a result of this they will inevitably be voted out of office very rapidly.

On the other hand, if the Cuban Adjustment Act is abolished or modified so as to restrict the right of recent Cuban immigrants to travel to the island, this will energize the recent immigrants and a higher proportion of them will rapidly become American citizens, register to vote, turn out for the election and vote Democratic.

So the troglodytes are going to be damned if the do and damned if they don't or as we Cubans put it "Palos porque bogs and palos porque no bogas" which is a throwback to the medieval prison ships where the jailbirds would be beat incessantly whether they rowed or not.

I believe this is a richly deserved result for a group of politicians who were willing to favor the continuation of the Cuban Adjustment Act while they were in control of their power base because it increased the number of votes they manipulated and their political power.

As long as this was true, they did not mind the human trafficking and numerous deaths it caused on the high seas nor the ease it offered to the Cuban government to introduce its spies into the US or to be able to get rid of their criminals by shipping them here.

I frankly have nothing to say about this aspect of the problem, except that the troglodytes had it coming to them and that I am glad that this will be happening to them because they have always been an obstacle to finding viable solutions to existing Cuban imbroglio.

However, as I have said elsewhere, for other reasons different from the ones being wielded by the right wing Cuban politicians, I consider the overturning of the Cuban Adjustment Act a necessary component of an optimal US policy in favor of a peaceful Cuban democratic transition.

Thus I find it paradoxical that the right wing politicians will be punished for accidentally backing something that for the first time would benefit a Cuba.

This seems to be proof of a sort of political Murphy's law, that Cuban politicians will inevitably hold on to power as long as they continue to screw up and begin to lose it as soon as they accidentally begin to do something right.

All bad deeds are rewarded and no good deed goes unpunished seems to be the general rule.

Cuban politics on both sides of the Florida Straits for over half a century seem to give proof of this sort of masochistic behavior on the part of the Cuban population.


Anonymous said...

And by the way, to be fair, I extend this pessimistic conclution to the pwer elite in the island as well.

I believe that Fidel Castro kept power for so long because of the magnitude of his screw ups and that Raul Castro's attempt at reforms are endangering the long run hold on power of the nomenlatura in the island.

And the worst effect of all this will result from the immigration reform.

The increased travel possiblilities of the Cuban population and its ability to enter and leave the island repeteadly might bring some short run benefits in the acquisition of more dollars, the decrease of subsidized employment of the excess labor force and the reduction of social tensions, and expedite the loss of political power of the right wing Miami powr elite, but in the long run it will prove fatal for the Cuban totalitarian regime.

This will be the inevitable result of the information that the Cuban populattion living abroad will bring into the island when they visit it or communicate from other countries with their families and friends.

So this elite will be digging their own political grave by taking measures which may benefit them in the short run but will destabilize them eventually.

So they too are going to be punished for doing something right.

Murphy's principle applies to them as well.

A curse on both your houses!


Anonymous said...

Sign the White House Petition on ending Cuba trade embargo and U.S. travel restrictions:

John McAuliff said...

The Cuban Adjustment Act must be abolished or suspended.

1) It is unjustified.

2) It motivates dangerous illegal entry.

3) It makes it harder for Cubans to receive visas for family reunions or study in the US.

John McAuliff
Fund for Reconciliation and Development