Editorial: Immigration Incoherence

Keeping the same immigration policies we had before opening relations with Cuba is wrong
Editorial: Immigration Incoherence
Foto: EFE

 

Immigration laws require urgent changes in order to, at least, be coherent. We only need to look at the different way Mexican or Central American immigrants are treated compared to Cubans. The first are caged in detention centers and go through a judicial process before being deported. The second are welcomed with open arms and handed a list of social benefits they can access immediately.

This is unacceptable, considering that there are no significant differences between the two groups. Both are motivated by the desire to earn a better living, but some of them get help while the others are persecuted.

The difference is that Cuban immigrants are still reaping the benefits of obsolete legislation such as the Cuban Adjustment Act of 1966 and the Refugee Education Assistance Act of 1980. The former arose from the tensions of the Cold War, and the latter, in the heat of the Mariel exodus. Today’s reality, with the reestablishment of Cuba-U.S. relations, could not be further from the one prevailing in those days.

Cuba continues to be an authoritarian regime with a closed society. There are people on the island who are singled out for their political beliefs who could find asylum here in the States, but they are not among the thousands of Cubans hoping to arrive in the U.S. from Ecuador and Central America. The same applies to the nearly 17,000 Cubans who came into the U.S. in the last 3 months of 2015, according to figures from the Department of Homeland Security. In 2014, 9,200 arrived during the same period.

People in Cuba wishing to emigrate to the U.S. are feeling a sense of urgency as the opportunity to benefit from this special treatment seems to be coming to an end with the new tone mutually adopted by the two countries.

The incongruity of offering extraordinary refugee benefits to immigrants who are now able to travel regularly to their country leads to innumerable abuses of federal funding, as was reported last October in a series published by the South Florida newspaper Sun Sentinel.

As a result, a bipartisan movement is seeking to eliminate these laws and limit the assistance offered to recently-arrived Cubans. Neither the White House nor the Senate wants to deal with this issue, so the legal folly continues, and two similar groups of immigrants are given opposite treatments, making a fool of the immigration system.