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Let Cubans Flee: Keep the Cuban Adjustment Act

By: John Suarez - Nov 9, 2015, 11:21 am
The Obama administration appears all too eager to give in to as many of Castro's demands as possible. Cuban Adjustment Act
The Obama administration appears all too eager to give in to as many of Castro’s demands as possible. (R24N)

We must take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentors, not the tormented. Wherever anyone is persecuted for their race or political views, that place must become the center of the universe.
Elie Wiesel

EspañolRepresentative Paul Gosar (R-AZ) has distributed a draft of his bill to repeal the 1966 Cuban Adjustment Act, which allows most Cubans who simply touch US soil to enter the United States and become legal, permanent residents a year and a day later. However, Bill Clinton changed this practice in an immigration agreement with the Castro regime in 1995 that ushered in the infamous wet foot, dry foot policy by executive order.

Carl McGill, professor of criminal justice at the University of Phoenix, said in 2000 that “Clinton’s policy to return ‘rafters’ to Cuba” was “like returning a slave in pre-Civil War America back to his enslaver. This would have condoned civil rights violations and slavery, as returning a ‘rafter’ to Cuba condones human rights violations and communism.”

The Dred Scott decision is a historical abomination, but the same must apply to President Clinton’s “wet foot, dry foot policy,” which circumvented the Cuban Adjustment Act’s original intent.

The General Accounting Office (GAO) reported that, “for over 30 years, fleeing Cubans had been welcomed to the United States; however, the US government reversed this policy on August 19, 1994, when President Clinton announced that Cuban rafters interdicted at sea would no longer be brought to the United States.”

“Wet foot, dry foot” was a massive setback for Cuban refugees.

At the same time, the 1995 agreement called on the Castro regime to register Cubans for a lottery, so that up to 20,000 “immigrants” would be eligible to enter the United States annually. This is explains why many Castro-regime supporters — probably spies among them — have entered South Florida.

Unfortunately, the reasons for the Cuban Adjustment Act remain unchanged. Cuba remains a totalitarian, communist regime that systematically denies Cubans their rights, including the right to enter and exit their own country. Cubans continue to be shot and killed for trying to leave the island and continue to be denied the right to return.

The December 17, 2014, announcement of normalized relations between Cuba and the United States also concealed repression, violence, and murder on the island. Just one day earlier, on December 16, the Cuban coastguard rammed and sank a boat with 32 refugees.

One of them, Diosbel Díaz Bioto, went missing and is presumed dead. The rest were repatriated and detained. Less than four months later on April 9, 2015 28-year-old Yuriniesky Martínez Reina was shot in the back and killed by state security chief Miguel Angel Río Seco Rodríguez in the Martí municipality of Manatees. Martínez Reina and a group of young men were spotted by security forces as they tried to build a boat near Menéndez beach in order to flee the island.

This sets Cuba apart from every other country in the Western Hemisphere. This is why the Cuban Adjustment Act does not constitute “special treatment” under US law. Rather, it is a recognition that the Castro regime is different from the rest in this hemisphere and that, as a result, it requires a different policy.

For decades, both the radical “left” and the Castro government have denounced the Cuban Adjustment Act and continue to demands its repeal. The regime’s argument is that the Cuban Adjustment Act motivates Cubans to leave the island. At the same time, they deny the repressive, failed, and criminal nature of the regime that drives Cubans to flee.

What is disturbing, however, is that now Republicans and conservatives are echoing the pro-Castro pretext for repealing the Cuban Adjustment Act. They claim that, since the Obama Administration has “normalized” relations with the Castro regime, things have changed. This overlooks the fact that the human-rights situation on the island has deteriorated and that levels of violence have escalated since President Obama announced the new Cuba policy.

In the midst of the current debate, it is also important to remember that the Castro regime campaigns permanently to demonize the 2 million Cubans living in Miami. The Castroists, taking no account of the ideological and philosophical differences that are normal in a free society, lump all Cuban-Americans together under a destructive stereotype that has harmed the community’s image abroad.

As Carlos Alberto Montaner concludes, “Cuba is one of those states that seeks to destroy the collective image of their emigrants and the particular image of those people that they have decided are their enemies.”

The Castros’ propaganda has coincided with growing anti-immigrant sentiment in the United States and President Obama’s willingness to grant the Cuban dictatorship as many of its demands as possible. These circumstances could very well lead to the end of the Cuban Adjustment Act. Tragically, some Cuban Americans will have contributed to strip Cubans from one of their few remaining safeguards against oppression.

Ending the Cuban Adjustment Act will not stop Cubans from fleeing to the United States. Rather, it will lead to more desperate attempts to flee increasing repression on the island, but more Cubans will be sent back to the lions’ den.

Without the Cuban Adjustment Act, human trafficking will increase, as will sham marriages on behalf of Cubans looking to obtain US citizenship. This will benefit neither Cubans nor US national interests.

But this next step in the Obama administration’s quest to normalize relations with the Cuban dictatorship will help achieve one of the Castro regime’s long-term policy goals. Sadly, if the Cuban Adjustment Act comes to an end, many of those who promote its repeal will come to regret it.

Therefore, I would like to go on the record saying: not in my name.

John Suarez John Suarez

John Suarez is a human rights activist who has spoken before the United Nations Human Rights Council on several occasions. He is a specialist on the human rights situation in Cuba. John hosts the blog Notes From the Cuban Exile Quarter. Follow him on Twitter @johnjsuarez.