Cuba Illegal Exit
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Cubans fleeing oppression, or moving?

Cubans fleeing oppression, or moving?

As the number of Cubans stranded in Central America continues to grow,
and the impact of thousands of new migrants heading to the United States
— and most likely Miami-Dade — fuels concerns, even hysteria, about the
cost of this growing humanitarian crisis, it’s clear that the Obama
administration needs to step in to control the flow.

So far, the State Department has been almost mum.

Last week Central American nations reached a deal to let the Cubans
stuck in Costa Rica — 8,000 so far because Nicaragua closed its border
to them weeks ago — continue their journey north to the United States.
The plan would provide an airlift to Cubans starting in January from
Costa Rica to El Salvador, and then by bus to Mexico.

News organizations in Central America reported that U.S. officials were
part of the talks, but a State Department official would only say on
Tuesday that “we are aware of press reports that a deal has been reached
to allow Cuban migrants to proceed north through Central America. We
refer you to the involved host governments for details of the agreement.
The United States is committed to supporting safe, orderly and legal
migration from Cuba through the effective implementation of the 1994-95
U.S.-Cuba Migration Accords.”

No doubt there is a growing crisis, and the United States needs to lend
a helping hand. But make no mistake — the circumstances have changed in
Cuba since the migration accords were crafted two decades ago.

Among the distinctions: Cubans were not allowed to travel without
government permission; today most Cubans can travel outside the country
and return. Those who left since the 1959 revolution until a few years
ago had to leave all of their belongings, give up their homes, cars and
anything else of value to the government.

Today, Cubans are allowed by the communist government to sell their
homes and cars, and they are doing just that to get the thousands of
dollars they need to pay “mules” to take them on a dangerous trek from
Ecuador (where until recently they could board a plane from Havana
without the need of a visa) to, eventually, the United States. Many then
return to visit the island a year and a day after they left — and some
do so even as they are getting U.S. government help like food stamps.

In the short term, the United States needs to move the new migrants who
do not have family in South Florida to other parts of the country where
they can be sponsored by church groups and families, similar to the
programs put into place during the 1960s Freedom Flights and the 1980
Mariel exodus. These helped thousands find jobs and learn about the
American way of life. In the longer term, the new U.S.-Cuba relationship
warrants a true change in policy.

Cubans are “voting” with their feet, leaving a totalitarian system that
has failed them, but there are many other immigrant groups who are doing
the same, whether they are fleeing violence in Mexico or Guatemala or
fleeing political repression in Venezuela or anywhere else.

The “wet foot, dry foot” policy that Cubans have enjoyed for 20 years
can no longer stand the test of time. And the policy’s foundation, the
coveted Cuban Adjustment Act of 1966, is already under fire.

In his last year at the White House, President Obama should focus on
finding a fair way to treat Cubans fleeing oppression, and
distinguishing them from those who simply want to move on temporarily,
benefiting from American benevolence.

Source: Cubans fleeing oppression, or moving? | Miami Herald –
www.miamiherald.com/opinion/editorials/article52577540.html

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