Friday, June 26, 2009

The hole in the Bush strategy

The Bush Administration never used the term “regime change” with regard to Cuba, but its intentions (“transition,” “hasten the end of the dictatorship,” etc.) were always clear enough. President Bush’s beefed-up sanctions backed up those intentions, but his maintenance of longstanding U.S. immigration policy toward Cubans went in the opposite direction, and was one of several factors that made me believe that his intentions were more rhetorical than real.

The reason is simple: our exceptional immigration policy toward Cubans tells them that if they want to come to the United States, they will be admitted even if they have no visa, and once they arrive they will receive federal benefits. One can argue that this makes sense on humanitarian grounds, but the policy and the message it sends strongly undercuts any impetus toward political change. In effect, it encourages Cubans who are discontented and want to do something about it, to leave their country rather than stay and work for change.

The details of this policy, including the federal benefits, are explained in an excellent report (pdf) published last month by the Congressional Research Service. It gathers lots of useful data; for example, in fiscal year 2008, 49,500 Cubans became legal permanent residents, 4,100 were admitted as refugees after being processed at the U.S. Interests Section in Havana, 11,278 were admitted after appearing without a U.S. visa at a port of entry (Laredo, Texas for the vast majority), 3,351 were apprehended by the Border Patrol, mostly in coastal areas, and 2,199 were interdicted at sea.


Anonymous said...

It's very simple. You want change in Cuba? Repeal the CAA.

The Hypervigilant Observer said...

I have often thought that the US wet foot/dry foot policy...with its federal benefits...was
the best way... to keep things the same in Cuba.

Let the malcontents leave the island...but only after months or years of paperwork, begging and wasted energy...or until they are desperate enough to escape on a tire or styrofoam raft.

Anonymous said...

Proposing to repeal the Cuban Adjustment Act may trigger a massive exodus from Cuba that would make Mariel look like a family beach picnic. It would be extremely destabilizing within Cuba. Think of announcing last call in a bar full of alcoholics that are thinking of joining AA the following day!

Vecino de NF

Anonymous said...

In other words, the CAA serves no other function than to help stabilize the regime. Not only does it serve as a safety valve to allow thousands of discontented Cubans to leave the island, but many of those turn right around and join the hordes traveling back to the island with their bags packed with every kind of basic necessity for their extended families that the bankrupt regime is utterly incapable of providing themselves. REPEAL IT!

Anonymous said...

Phil wrote: "The Bush Administration never used the term “regime change” with regard to Cuba, but its intentions (“transition,” “hasten the end of the dictatorship,” etc.) were always clear enough."

I am shocked, yes shocked, to learn that an American president, in contrast to all of his predecessors, would DARE to hold in his heart such ruthless sentiments, much less express them publicly!

Isn't there anything decent people can do, even in retrospect, to punish this malefactor Bush for his wicked desire to besmirch the pure intentions, exemplary practices and noble idealism of the First Free Territory of the Americas, as apothesized by Castro I and Castro II? Oh, the humanity!

Anonymous said...

CAA for the sake of humanity? yeah, ok, then why not do it for Haiti.
the ONLY reason is for politics, like everything else re cuba

Anonymous said...

I can't decide which is funnier...8:07's mockery of Peters' post or nitwit 10:10's thinking it was for real!

which do you think is funnier Peters?

PC said...

I second the motion! The CAA is about to transform Cuba and curve out its limited strand of hope.