Illegal Cuban Migrants Get Immediate Benefits and Services: a Green Card in a Year
Cuban migrants get preferential treatment from the U.S. government, and it does not matter if the migrant enters illegally or legally. Since 1959, Cubans have enjoyed a status not accorded to any other immigrant group over time. In this work, I examine both the preferences given to those Cubans entering the country illegally or legally, and discuss the types and reasons for the preferences.
On Jan. 12, 2010, Janet Napolitano, the secretary of homeland security, made the Obama administration’s policy clear: “It is important to note that TPS (Temporary Protected Status) will apply only to those [Haitian] individuals who were in the United States as of January 12, 2010. Those who attempt to travel to the United States after January 12, 2010 will not be eligible for TPS and will be repatriated.”
“In FY 2008, there were 49,500 Cubans who became legal permanent residents( LPRs)--surpassed only by LPRs from Mexico, China, India and the Philippines. Yet very few Cubans have arrived in the United States through the legal avenues proscribed by the INA.”
(Ruth Ellen Wasem, “Cuban Migration to the U.S.: Policy and Trends” Congressional Research Service, June 2, 2009.
The reasons for the differences in the way Cubans are treated from other illegals is the Cuban Adjustment Act of 1966, Cuban-U.S. migrant agreements of 1994 and 1995, and law added in 1996. The 1966 Act permitted any Cuban who had been in the U.S. for a year and a day, regardless of how they got here, to have their status adjusted to that of a Legal Permanent Resident. Through the use of political power by U.S. Cubans, they have successfully defeated every attempt to repeal the 1966 Act and have been able to add further preferences for Cuban immigrants, whether legal or illegal. It is also a matter of class and resources; Cubans in the U.S. are able to pay thousands of dollars to have traffickers bring Cubans here illegally, to give them jobs, and help them get U.S. government benefits, while most illegals from other countries do not have the same resources or influence.
Class and politics matter in immigrants matters, as Napolitano’s remarks vividly point out.
Rather than applying the laws that are set forth in the Immigration and Nationality Act, the U.S. treats Cubans as refugees, thereby allowing temporary entrance into the U.S., and then under the 1966 Cuban Adjustment Act, they can apply for permanent residency and eventually citizenship under expediated process designed for them.
While discussion of migrants is an everyday event, the failure to fully discuss policies of the U.S. toward Cuban immigration is a void that needs to be corrected. While we believe the Cold War is over, there are many who want to keep it alive, if downsized, for political, partisan and policy reasons. On January 15, 2011, we have an example of this tendency in an article in the Wall Street Journal called, “New Prize in Cold War: Cuban Doctors” about the U.S. program to encourage defections of doctors serving in foreign countries. Not only is it an encouragement to lure illegal immigrants--the doctors do not have documents from Cuba allowing them to travel to the U.S.-- but it affects our foreign policy and diplomacy.