The American people are sending a message loud and clear to the political elites: America is not a dumping ground.
Nothing embodies the rationale behind this outrage more than the recent surge in Cuban migrants both at the Florida coast and through the Texas border via Central America.
In addition to the surge in Central American migrants crossing the border, there has been a torrent of Cuban nationals entering our country at levels not seen in years. During FY 2015, roughly 43,000 Cubans entered the U.S., double the level of the previous year; and according to a new report, 7,000 Cubans are expected to come through the Texas border in the coming days. So far, 86,000 migrants have already arrived this year. But unlike Mexicans and Central Americans, Cubans cannot be deemed as illegal aliens. Pursuant to the Cuban Adjustment Act of 1966 (and a subsequent act in 1976), any Cuban who finds his way to our shores is essentially granted a green card immediately. And unlike other immigrants, they are eligible for welfare from day one.
By definition, a sovereign country means a nation that is not controlled by any external power. Yet, thousands of individuals from all countries, but from Cuba in particular, have the ability to unilaterally declare residency here, obtain a green card and path to voting rights, and secure immediate access to welfare. After traveling to Costa Rica and Nicaragua, Cuban migrants enter Mexico and come through our southern border whereby they surrender themselves to border agents. At that point, under existing law, they are eligible for the panoply of welfare programs immediately.
Last year, the Florida Sun Sentinel did an exposé on this racket and found that it costs taxpayers $680 million a year. Welfare costs in Florida alone have increased 23% between 2011 and 2014, before the explosion of recent arrivals. Among other things, the Sentinel reported the following:
Fed-up Floridians are reporting their neighbors and relatives for accepting government aid while shuttling back and forth to the island, selling goods in Cuba, and leaving their benefit cards in the U.S. for others to use while they are away.
Some don’t come back at all. The U.S. has continued to deposit welfare checks for as long as two years after the recipients moved back to Cuba for good, federal officials confirmed.
Count this among the growing list of travesties of which we should all be asking: How can Congress tolerate this for even one day?
In many ways the Cuban migration reflects what we are broadly seeing in our out-of-control immigration system. Once upon a time, the 1966 law made sense as a Cold War-era toll against communism to invite in those who were fleeing despotism and came here to assimilate and embrace American values. But much like the rest of our immigration, which has to a large degree become a magnet for economic opportunists who fleece this country and dilute our constitutional values, the Cuban law is being abused against the consent of the citizenry.
It is not surprising, therefore, that Cubans, the one immigrant group that’s long voted Republican, are not shifting to the Left. As Pew Research notes, more than half of Cuban immigrants arrived after 1990 and are more inclined to vote Democrat. This trend is quite obviously reflective of the shift in attitudes of the immigrants – from patriotic assimilation and affinity for our republican form of government to the embrace of welfare and multiculturalism.
As the Sun Sentinel observed, “[T]he sense of entitlement is so ingrained that Cubans routinely complained to their local congressman about the challenge of accessing U.S. aid — from Cuba.”
Moreover, we have come full circle in which the law is now being used as a weapon by Raul Castro against America, not the other way around. As Maria Werlau wrote in the Miami Herald, Castro is taking advantage of Obama’s alliance and is spawning this migration crisis in order to pressure him to drop all remaining sanctions. And in case you think that open borders is a prudent form of humanitarianism, this growing phenomena not only fleeces American citizens – the first priority of our government – it further represses those who remain in Cuba. As Werlau observes, the $5 billion in annual remittances from the million Cubans in this country “represents a mammoth cash cow allowing Cuba’s military dictatorship to continue repressing and avoiding true reform.”
We must stop this scam in its tracks. Congress must immediately repeal the 1966 law, which has become counterintuitive to its original objectives. Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ) has introduced H.R. 3818, which would repeal that outdated law. It also defunds the Cuban Family Reunification Parole Program of 2007, which allows U.S. citizens and even immigrants to bring in more family members outside of existing channels. A mixture of re-imposing sanctions on Cuba and shutting down the unconditional open door and open welfare to any Cuban migrant will not only protect our sovereignty and economy, it will isolate Castro and bring brighter prospects to all Cuban people in the long-run.
Daniel Horowitz is a senior editor of Conservative Review. Follow him on Twitter @RMConservative.