“We are aware the abuses caused by the Cuban Adjustment Act and are looking for a way to ensure that only those facing Government oppression benefit from it.”
Carlos Curbelo, Republican Congressman from Florida
“When things change in Cuba, then we should change the Cuban Adjustment Act (…), which certainly helps to resolve the problem of Cuban refugees, and allows them to move through the system more quickly.”
Joe Garcia, former Democratic Congressman from Florida
14ymedio, June 2015 — The announcement of the reestablishment of diplomatic relations between the United States and Cuba, last December 17, has revived the debate raised by the most conservative Cuban-American members of congress: Should the Cuban Adjustment Act be changed?
Although US president Barack Obama has been quick to affirm that there will be no change in immigration policy toward the island, the growing criticism of “wet foot-dry foot,” and the consequent fear that this law will be repealed, has increased the number of Cubans trying to reach the US coast from the island.
Created in 1966, the Cuban Adjustment Act (CAA) offers special procedures to concede permanent residency to Cubans who manage to enter the United States citing political persecution.
Some criticize that people who take advantage of this measure to legalize their migratory situation in the United States, then return to the “persecuting country” to visit their families.
Others, however, maintain that the rule shouldn’t change until the human rights situation on the island improves.
Florida Republican Carlos Curbelo, the son of exiles, has been the latest voice raised against the special rule, along with other conservative members of congress such as Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and David Rivera.
These politicians demand that Cubans asking for asylum under the Adjustment Act sign a formal declaration in which they specify they are fleeing Cuban for political reasons. Under this proposal, visits to the island would be restricted for these refugees.
“We are aware of the abuses caused by the Cuban Adjustment Act and are looking for a way to ensure that only those facing Government oppression benefit from it,” said Curbelo in a statement.
Republican senator Marco Rubio also thinks the rule should be “reevaluated and updated,” but he doesn’t offer concrete details about his proposal.
The New York Times also hosted a discussion of the issue. The former chief of the United States Interest Section in Cuba, Vicky Huddleston, asked in a column published in December that the Adjustment Act be repealed to “foster a safe and orderly migration, as well as to save lives.”
Congressman Joe Garcia, Miami Democrat, is on the side of waiting. “When things change in Cuba, then we can change the Cuban Adjustment Act. Things haven’t changed and it certainly helps to resolve the problem of Cuban refugees, and allows them to move through the system more quickly,” he said last October in an interview in El Nuevo Herald.
Since 2001, more than 416,000 Cubans have used the rule to legalize their migratory status. In the last trimester of 2014, US authorities reported an increase of 60% in Cubans arriving in the United States (8,624) compared to the same period in 2013 (when there were 5,221).