Here come the Cubans
Central American countries and Mexico have reached an agreement that would allow 8,000 Cuban immigrants currently stranded in Costa Rica to enter the U.S. legally. The U.S. was not party to the negotiations but will apparently acquiesce as other countries dictate U.S. immigration and asylum policies.
It is the coming change in our asylum policy toward Cuba that is fueling the current exodus from Castro's paradise. And U.S. authorities are concerned that it's only the beginning of a potential mass migration from Cuba to America.
“I believe that the pope’s comments were extremely important to accelerate the negotiation process,” said Edgar Gutiérrez, a political analyst and former Guatemalan foreign minister. “There must have been of lot of outside pressure.” He said the deal was “extremely unusual” because it moves migrants with government help from Central America to the U.S. border.
Mexico, in particular, has been aggressively deporting Central Americans caught trying to traverse the country en route to the U.S.
Cuban migrants say they fear warmer U.S.-Cuba relations will end the fast track to legal U.S. residency that their compatriots have enjoyed for generations. The so-called dry foot provisions of the 1966 Cuban Adjustment Act allows migrants fleeing the island who make U.S. landfall to apply for asylum and all but certainly obtain a green-card residence permit in months.
For some officials in the region, the U.S. should change the legislation to end the special treatment of Cubans. “The problem we have today is caused at the end of the day by that law,” said Mr. Morales, the Guatemalan Foreign Minister.
The surge of Cubans heading to the U.S. by land and sea was prompted by the recent detente between Washington and Havana, which restored diplomatic relations in December 2014.
Despite the assurance of the governments involved that this week’s migration deal won’t be repeated, some people see a precedent as having been set. “I understand it’s a humanitarian effort, but it could make things worse,” said Ezequiel Vargas, an immigration lawyer in Tijuana. “The Cubans aren’t stupid, and if the door is opened up once, it can be opened up again,” he added.
Human rights advocates welcomed the agreement but said regional policy should bet set to guarantee fair treatment of all migrants in the region. “This was just a reactive deal to solve the specific situation of these Cubans, but we are far from a comprehensive and coordinated policy,” said Perseo Quiroz, the head of the Mexico office of Amnesty International.
Ending Cuba's special status is politically difficult, but by normalizing relations with the gangsters in Cuba, the president has little choice. How can we justify opening the door to Cuba while still maintaining that people who escape are leaving behind a tyrannical regime?
We can't justify it, but the president and the State Department won't care. They will look to maintain the fiction that the Castro brothers are no worse than any other dictator we do business with. This may be true up to a point. But there are still unresolved issues involving the property of U.S. companies and individuals seized when Castro took over that should slow down or even stop the normalization process.
I doubt the migration from Cuba will turn into another Mariel Boat Lift, where more than 100,000 Cubans made the 90-mile crossing to escape Castro. But combined with the surge of illegals from Central America and Mexico, any more new arrivals in great numbers would strain our facilities beyond the breaking point.