Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Shame on The Miami Herald for its shortsighted editorial that will harm South Florida

Keep the Cuban Adjustment Act of 1966 and the Refugee Education Assistance Act of 1980

Cuban migrants in Costa Rica in 2016

The Miami Herald editorial board on April 16, 2016 called for ending both the Refugee Education Assistance Act of 1980 and the Cuban Adjustment Act of 1966. Taking this course of action would be shortsighted and have a devastating impact on South Florida.  The Refugee Education Assistance Act of 1980 is a law that does the following it is: "An act to provide general assistance to local educational agencies for the education of Cuban and Haitian refugee children, to provide special impact aid to such agencies for the education of Cuban and Haitian refugee children and Indochinese refugee children, and to provide assistance to State educational agencies for the education of Cuban and Haitian refugee adults."

The current law does not guarantee federal assistance but states: "Certain Cuban and Haitian nationals who are neither refugees nor asylees may be eligible  for ORR - funded refugee assistance programs under Part 401 of Title 45 of the Code of Federal  Regulations (45 CFR 401)." This law is not targeted to asylum seekers or refugees as The Miami Herald editorial claims and eliminating it would be a disaster not only for Cubans and Haitians but also for South Florida.

Ending Refugee Education Assistance will shift costs to local taxpayers

The 1966 Cuban Adjustment Act came into existence as the result of a migration crisis provoked by the Castro regime when it perceived the Johnson Administration as weak. It provided a mechanism to legalize tens of thousands of Cubans who had fled the Castro regime and were not free to return to their homeland.

Despite the claim made by The Miami Herald and President Obama there is no post-Cold War era with Cuba. The Carter administration in the 1970s and the Clinton administration in the 1990s sought to normalize relations with the Castro regime as Obama is doing now and the end result then as now were mass migration crisis with Mariel 1980 and the rafter crisis in 1994-1995 along with hostile actions by the Cuban dictatorship demonstrating that the Cold War was still underway. 

What has driven migration over the past half century has been the Cuban nightmare created by the Castro brothers combined with a perception of weakness of occupants in The White House. The crisis generated today in Panama, Costa Rica, Ecuador, and Mexico is regime created with the aim of achieving a long term objective: the end of the Cuban Adjustment Act and the knowledge that the Obama administration will not retaliate.  Every administration that engaged the Castro regime through unilateral concessions (LBJ, Carter, Clinton, and Obama) has seen migration waves used against it to shape policy. Administrations that took a harder line did not face these problems on their watch (Nixon, Reagan, Bush I, and Bush II).

History has demonstrated that it is not the Cuban Adjustment Act that generates mass migrations from Cuba, but rather administrations, perceived as weak by Castro, especially those that tried to normalize relations in 1977, 1993, and now 2013 that coincide with these crisis.

Contrary to the claims of The Miami Herald the Castro regime does not recognize the right of Cubans to enter and exit their own country. Tens of thousands of Cubans are not allowed to return to Cuba. The Cubans who are allowed to return must obtain a visa and pay exorbitant fees at a minimum more than three times ($250) what a non-Cuban would pay ($75) and up to eight times more ($605). No other country in this hemisphere has these restrictions. If the Cuban Adjustment Act is ended then these Cubans will exist in a legal limbo as Cubans in the United States did before 1966 or illegal and subject to deportation to a country that violates international law shooting fleeing Cuban refugees in the back.

Ending the Cuban Adjustment Act and stopping the Refugee Education Assistance Act as The Miami Herald is advocating  will cause harm not only to newly arrived Cubans and Haitians, but will also negatively effect local schools, and the local economy when the federal funds are cut. Immigration policy and the cost should fall within the realm of national policy and not be passed on to Miami-Dade County and Florida taxpayers straining local and state resources.    

The corruption condemned by The Miami Herald, the Sun Sentinel and the ongoing immigration crisis are not due to either the Cuban Adjustment Act or the Refugee Education Assistance Act but the failures of the Obama administration and its departments. Current law provides leeway to restrict those breaking the law or engaging in fraud that is all too often failing to take place. 

Finally, some advocates of engagement with the Castro regime look at the Cuban Adjustment Act as an obstacle for normalizing relations with the dictatorship. They are focused on getting rid of it addressing the emotional component while at the same time ignoring the human cost of ending it not only in the concrete terms already mentioned above but also in human rights terms. 


This mentality was perfectly represented in another controversy by Pedro Freyre, whose law firm, Akerman, represents Carnival who was quoted in The New York Times on April 22, 2016 concerning Carnival Cuba cruise controversy.“I had been around my community long enough to know that emotions are very deep here,” he said. “At the beginning, I said, ‘What? Why are people so upset - 300,000 travel every year to Cuba.’ But this one tugged at the heart strings.”  

The fact that Carnival had no issue with discriminating against an entire class of American citizens, because of their national origin, and went along with the Cuban dictatorship's demands is not primarily an emotional issue as Attorney Freyre, who is Cuban American, claimed in The New York Times but a legal and a civil rights issue with a particular resonance with U.S. history. Jim Crow segregation and the discrimination of entire classes of people by corporations bending to discriminatory laws in a variation of the "separate but equal" doctrine.  This is why there is a lawsuit underway against Carnival. 

This mentality is also at work in the efforts to repeal the Cuban Adjustment Act and water down the State Department's Human Trafficking report on Cuba and what a Texas African American professor described as a variation of Dred Scott


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