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: