Your Next Campaign 2016 Immigration Controversy: Cubans on Welfare

As two Cuban-Americans fight their way toward the presidency, are Cubans about to lose their special immigration status?


It is nothing if not picturesque. ||| Matt Welch
Matt Welch

As Nick Gillespie mentioned two weeks ago, the Reason Foundation, which publishes all journalism under the Reason banner, recently organized a group trip to communist Cuba. We will be rolling out related reportage over the coming months. As ever when examining the real-world effects of the tangled, emotion-fueled bilateral policies emanating from Washington and Havana, the paradoxes can be profound.

In today's Los Angeles Times, I write about one recent development that is already impacting presidential politics and may soon change a half-century-old immigration policy: Cubans, in record numbers, are streaming across the U.S.-Mexico border, where, unlike their Latin American counterparts, they are greeted with cash, welfare benefits, and a path to citizenship. More:

During the last three months of 2015, more than 12,000 Cubans knocked on our southern door. This year's migration is on pace to double the previous high. […]

The renewed diplomatic relationship with the U.S., to be crowned by President Obama's historic visit to the island next month, is one of the main reasons for the migratory surge. Cubans are heading out now while the Cuban Adjustment Act is still in place, fearing that they'll soon have to apply for documentation like everyone else.

Obama's removal last year of the cap limiting the amount of money Americans can send back to their relatives in Cuba has also boosted the outward migration, in conjunction with Raul Castro's elimination of an exit visa. Suddenly, more Cubans have more access to more money, and no longer require the government's blessing to get on a plane. No wonder they're heading to Ecuador and Mexico with an eye turned northward — because they can.

Read the whole thing here.

The two Tea Party Cuban-American senators currently mud-wrestling for second place in the GOP are split on the issue—Ted Cruz wants to keep the 1966 law in place until Cuba is no longer communist; Marco Rubio has introduced the Cuban Immigrant Work Opportunity Act, which would require new migrants from the island to prove that they are political refugees. And Donald, of course, is Trumping: "You know, we have a system now for bringing people into the country, and what we should be doing is we should be bringing people who are terrific people who have terrific records of achievement, accomplishment."

Interestingly, Cuba provides one of the best case studies for how Trump-style fears of non-terrific immigrants messing up America didn't turn out to be true, as this fascinating Reason TV video explores:

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  1. Scarface isn’t a documentary?

    1. Say hello to my little narrative!


    1. It’s certainly going to mess with the low-cost vacation options available to Canadian baristas.

    2. Yes. We will have to travel to Venezuela to get that ol’ Cuban oppression feel.

  3. Cubans on Welfare

    Nice band name.

  4. “You know, we have a system now for bringing people into the country, and what we should be doing is we should be bringing people who are terrific people who have terrific records of achievement, accomplishment.”

    Just imagine what the Donald could do with a teleprompter!

    1. I think you underestimate his arrogance if you think he would EVER use a teleprompter.

    1. I hate you.

    2. I feel obligated to share that that blogpost is awful,that there is a fantastic photo of Donald Trump involved, and the comments are full of really creative Anti-Semeitc terminology, like “Kikeservativism” and “Neocohens.” Lovely, really.

  5. The only thing to learn from Scarface is that first you get the money, and once you have the money, you get the power. And once you have the power and the money, you get the women. Like Hillary Clinton.

    1. You get Hillary Clinton or you get other women like Hillary Clinton does? If it’s the first, then the St. Francis route is looking a lot better.

  6. Oh, and fuck Reason and their continued effort to claim illegal immigration doesn’t impact wages. Go tell that to low class workers who are legal competing with illegals. There’s people who experience this in the areas they work. It doesn’t impact the white collar workers and cultural elite. You want to argue for open borders? Go ahead. Stop portraying it as a fairy tale with no losers.

    1. The job market is not a zero-sum game. Immigrants are consumers too. That means that as they consume goods and services, they create more demand for those goods and services. That means jobs are created to fill that demand.

      1. Creating more manufacturing jobs in China helps Americans how, again?

        1. Not the argument I’m making. Cheaper consumer goods helps Americans in many ways, and regardless, it’s the free choice of those corporations or businesses. America doesn’t own a corporation or a citizen because they were born within its borders.

          Doesn’t mean that some people don’t experience upheaval as a result of the process and may end up worse off. Experiences vary.

        2. The ability to buy goods at a lower cost and have more “stuff”?

      2. Sure but that most certainly lags behind the hit to the wallet workers who are directly competing with them for jobs feel.

        1. The proposition is of dubious truth anyway. Sure, immigrants consume, and certainly someone is going to have a job supplying the goods for them to consume. The proposition is that jobs will be created for other Americans to supply those goods.

          But a quick look around your house or office should tell you most consumer goods aren’t manufactured in America, anyway. So while it may be true that someone will be the beneficiary of the immigrant’s consumption, that someone ain’t likely to be an American.

          1. You are absolutely correct that the immigrant’s consumption is not going to create $30/hr full-pension union jobs that comply with EPA, OSHA,

            1. Accidentally clicked submit and got cut off. Still, it’s obvious where I was going.

              I worked in construction for $12/hr. While the company did not employ illegal immigrants and that may have been a factor, the average American-born laborer worked less and complained more than the average foreign-born laborer. The operators and foremen were a different story, but there were fewer of those positions and they had more responsibility.

              There are also lots of apprenticeship and trade programs that are having a hard time finding and keeping people. While they don’t pay stupendously at the start, they do pay much better than $12/hr once you put in some time at grade.

              I wouldn’t say that Americans are “lazy” per se, but a lot has to change if those jobs are going to profitably “return” to the US.

              1. American workers, by virtue of being Americans, deserve a living wage. They don’t need to actually earn it though. That’s unfair. But they do need to see it in their paycheck. If the wage isn’t something they can live comfortably off of, then there isn’t any point in taking the job. After all, they’re entitled to some minimum standard of living that includes not only room and board, but a smart phone, a computer, internet access, cable tv, a large flat screen to watch it on, and so on and so forth. If a job doesn’t pay enough to buy all those things, then it isn’t good enough for an American-born worker.

        2. Maybe they should acquire a skill other than making buggy whips.

          1. probably a good idea.

    2. You are arguing on an aggregate scale where as for a lot of people it remains a personal issue. This isn’t an immigrants are a net gain or loss argument, but an argument that yes, some people are greatly impacted by immigration and in a way they aren’t going to appreciate. Plugging your fingers and your ears and pretending otherwise doesn’t help libertarianism.

      1. So you would rather cause harm to the greater economy for the benefit of a few? Why not ban importing foreign goods altogether? Think of all the jobs that will be created!

  7. Obama’s removal last year of the cap limiting the amount of money Americans can send back to their relatives in Cuba has also boosted the outward migration

    Why would having more money make some of them move from their tropical paradise with free health care and low-cost food?

  8. An irritating island burgeoning with prudish left-wing bullshittery, delicious cigars, and time machine automobiles mistreated with caustic aplomb for decades as Chinese communists bulge with American riches poured like the fucking sands of averted time around human rights atrocities and Asian nightmares.

    When will any of this shit ever not be perplexing?

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