Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Huckabee: Keep Cubans out (Updated)

According to Fox News, Governor Mike Huckabee proposed halting immigration from countries that are listed as state sponsors of terrorism, which includes Cuba. His advisor then backed away from the proposal.

This is the same mistake that Fred Thompson made months ago (discussed here and here). Trying to make a secure borders/anti-immigration point, both he and Huckabee went too far and hurt themselves among Cuban Americans.

For candidates, it works politically to call Cuba a state sponsor of terrorism in order to denounce the Cuban government.

But it does not work politically to say that immigration policies toward Cubans should be applied as if Cuba posed an actual threat of terrorism against the United States – say, by infiltrating operatives posing as normal migrants. That would mean an end to no-questions-asked admissions of Cubans who arrive without visas on Florida shores or at U.S.-Mexico border crossing points. And that definitely does not work politically in Miami-Dade.

Our current immigration policy is an invitation to the Cuban government to infiltrate whoever it wishes, mixed in with all the other Cubans who come by raft or speedboat, or who just show up at a border station. The policy is a sign that the Administration sees no danger of terrorism from Cuba. On the day that policy changes, we’ll know our government thinks otherwise.

[Update: Governor Huckabee backtracked, saying he wants a review of immigration procedures with regard to people coming from countries in the list of state sponsors of terrorism. AP quoted him as follows: “I think we just need to do a more thorough job of ensuring that when people come here, and they come from nations that the State Department has designated as terrorist nations, that we are diligent in background searches.”]


Anonymous said...

So a candidate throws out a statement in a campaign that he will block immigration from terrorist states. Obviously, he wouldn't be saying it if the Bush Administration was already doing it. So, you can say the same thing about Iran, Syria, etc., that you say about Cuba -- that the Administration doesn't fear terrorism from those countries via immigration. I don't understand what the point is supposed to be...

Phil Peters said...

The difference is that if someone from Iran or Syria shows up without a visa, he or she is not admitted without screening. Cubans that reach our territory find an open door: minimal processing, no need to claim or establish an asylum claim, and a range of government benefits. That may be good or bad immigration policy, but it does not fit the idea that Cuba poses a threat.

Anonymous said...

but if a country is on the state sponsors of terrorism list that doesn't necessarily mean they have to be a direct threat to the U.S. homeland. Iran, North Korea, and Syria don't threaten us directly (at least yet).