Democrats and Republicans join together in opposition to the decades-old “Cold War-relic” policy that gives open-border benefits to Cubans over other immigrants, while one former presidential candidate, who has said he is against illegal immigration, wants to KEEP the welcome mat out for Cubans.
Hit with an unprecedented surge of migrants from Cuba, a growing number of Texas lawmakers say it’s time to do away with the special status given to Cubans, and treat them the same as migrants from any other nation. U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D), just joined U.S. Reps Henry Cuellar (D), and Blake Farenthold (R), and U.S. Sen. John Cornyn (R) in calling for the Cuban Adjustment Act to be repealed.
O’Rourke said the policy that provides immediate welfare benefits and allows Cubans to apply for legal permanent residency and a green card after they’ve been here for a year is unfair to illegal immigrants from other countries who don’t get the same deal.
Some believe the same deal should be available to ALL immigrants. Bishop Mark J. Seitz, who works with local churches in El Paso to provide shelter for the incoming Cubans, says they deserve the special status, because of the hardships they have endured in their journey. “The Cuban arrangement, if anything, should be a model for others. Let’s not take that away from them,” he said.
U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, whose father was an immigrant from Cuba, has said the act should only be repealed when Cuba is a free country. “The [Cuban Adjustment Act] is a recognition of the oppressive communist regime in Cuba that engages in political repression, torture and murder,” Cruz said then. “I look forward to the day when the Cuban Adjustment Act is no longer necessary because a free Cuba will have returned.”
Over 30,000 Cubans have flooded in to the U.S. within the past 7 months, including 4,000 who are being flown up from Panama this month where they are being admitted into the country by Border Patrol at El Paso. Compared to 43,154 for fiscal year 2015 and 24,277 for FY 2014.
Cubans have immediate access upon arrival to federal welfare benefits, including: TANF (cash welfare), SNAP (food stamps), and Medicaid. Cubans are also issued a work permit and a Social Security number.