Cuban perks under scrutiny in U.S. immigration reform
(Reuters) – All Ana Soto had to do to gain entry to the United States at the Texas-Mexico border in 2008 was show her Cuban identity card and birth certificate.
Soto has since brought her husband from Cuba, reunited with her parents in Miami and got an accounting job – building a dream life thanks to one of the most generous U.S. immigration laws: the 1966 Cuban Adjustment Act.
“I had no future in Cuba. My life, and my entire family’s life has changed for the better thanks to the Adjustment Act,” said Soto, 24.
Those who follow in Soto’s footsteps may not be so fortunate. As the U.S. Congress takes up immigration reform, the special status of Cuban emigres is being called into question by critics who say the CAA is a costly and anachronistic Cold War relic that should be abolished.
The issue has gained urgency after a relaxing of travel restrictions by both Cuba and the United States that has led to a dramatic increase in the number of Cubans traveling between the two countries. Soto herself has returned to Cuba a dozen times, on the last occasion to visit her dying grandmother.
Last month Cuba ended its practice of requiring an exit permit to leave the island, and said all Cubans could obtain a passport, potentially increasing the exodus.
Even traditional defenders of the CAA in the nation’s large Cuban American community, concentrated mostly in South Florida, say the law is out-dated and may need adjusting.
“I’m not sure we’re going to be able to avoid, as part of any comprehensive approach to immigration, a conversation about the Cuban Adjustment Act,” Florida’s Republican Senator Marco Rubio, a son of Cuban immigrants, told reporters last month.
Rubio, one of eight senators pushing for bipartisan immigration reform, said the CAA was intended to protect refugees fleeing an oppressive regime but an increasing number of Cuban exiles were traveling to and from Cuba on family vacations and business trips, undermining the justification for the act.
“It’s becoming increasingly difficult to justify it to my colleagues,” said Rubio.
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