The Corner

National Security & Defense

Time to End Special Immigration Rights for Cubans

Everyone agrees the Castro Family Regime in Cuba is bad (well, almost everyone). But the Soviet Empire disappeared a generation ago. Cuba is no longer the colonial outpost of a hostile empire. It is simply one more poor country run by gangsters, in a world of poor countries run by gangsters.

People who want to get out of those other countries don’t have the automatic, unquestioned, unlimited right to move here any time they want. And it’s time to end it for Cubans.

The continuation of special rights for Cubans under the Cuban Adjustment Act of 1966, even as the island has turned into just another Third World backwater has created perverse results. The Sun-Sentinel newspaper in South Florida has published an investigative report on the widespread practice of Cuban “refugees” ripping off the American welfare system. The scale of the problem, and the sense of entitlement to U.S. taxpayer money, uncovered by the paper is almost unbelievable. If it had been published by National Review, much less Breitbart, it would be dismissed as hysterical, right-wing nonsense. But from an MSM outlet, it can’t be ignored.

The lede of the first of three parts tells you what to expect:

Cuban immigrants are cashing in on U.S. welfare and returning to the island, making a mockery of the decades-old premise that they are refugees fleeing persecution at home.

Because of their status as “refugees,” Cubans have “unique access to food stamps, disability and other welfare,” which many are using to “finance their lives on the communist island.” Some come here, sign up for welfare, then go back to Cuba, arranging with relatives to mail their welfare money to them. Others go back and forth (which no genuine refugee would do), as described by a Hialeah resident:

Veloso, a barber who has been in the U.S. three years, said recent immigrants on welfare talk of spending considerable time in Cuba — six months there, two months here. “You come and go before benefits expire,” he said.

And there’s this:

“Back in the ’60s, when you came in, they told you the factory that was hiring,” said Nidia Diaz of Miami, a former bail bondswoman who was born in Cuba. “Now, they tell you the closest Department of Children and Families [office] so you can go and apply.”

This has created a sense among Cuban “refugees” that they deserve U.S. taxpayer funds:

The sense of entitlement is so ingrained that Cubans routinely complained to their local congressman about the challenge of accessing U.S. aid — from Cuba.

“A family member would come into our office and say another family member isn’t receiving his benefits,” said Javier Correoso, aide to former Miami Rep. David Rivera. “We’d say, ‘Where is he?’ They’d say, ‘He’s in Cuba and isn’t coming back for six months.’”

Welfare abuse is likely widespread among all “refugee” groups, since they’re exempt from the eligibility restrictions that apply to other immigrants. But the automatic grant of refugee status to all Cubans – whether they’ve been specifically persecuted or not – means the problem is bigger and more deeply rooted among them. The paper estimated an annual cost to Florida taxpayers of $300 million, a number which grew 23 percent in just three years, from 2011 to 2014. And an even larger payout comes from the federal treasury, for a total estimated to be at least $680 million.

Part two of the series is on Cubans who use American welfare as their retirement program:

Jose Angel Rodriguez immigrated at 81 to join his daughter. He now lives in Miami on food stamps, Medicaid and SSI. “It wasn’t that bad in Cuba,” he said. “But here, I’m better.”

No doubt, but that doesn’t sound like a refugee to me.

The paper published another piece earlier this year on people benefitting from the Cuban Adjustment Act who aren’t even from Cuba, but whose parents were:

In the past seven years, 1,074 natives of countries including Russia, Angola, Spain and even Kazakhstan have become permanent U.S. residents by claiming Cuban citizenship under the adjustment act, according to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

And this is especially absurd:

Victor Arrieta, a Brazilian whose father left Cuba before Fidel Castro came to power, took advantage of the law’s interpretation to remain in the United States after his visa expired.

“I benefited from it,” said Arrieta, 38, the track coach at a Miami prep school. “I was not fleeing communism. I’ve never been to Cuba.”

So, a Brazilian becomes an illegal alien by overstaying his visa, but gets a green card because his father emigrated from Cuba – before Castro, no less. Unbelievable.

Our entire refugee resettlement system is a fraud, a subject I hope the Senate Judiciary Committee is exploring at a hearing going on as I write this. But the problem of special “refugee” rights for all Cubans is in a league of its own. Congress could go a small way toward restoring its credibility on immigration by repealing the Cuban Adjustment Act as soon as possible.

Recommended

The Latest