“Don’t have to live like a refugee!”

Writing such stuff isn’t pleasant–but:

“So what’s wrong with visiting your homeland and families and helping them through their troubles?” many will ask. Nothing — unless you claim the status of a political refugee from that totalitarian homeland on your INS application, take advantage of America’s traditional generosity toward such refugees and then turn around and behave exactly like the immigrant applicants to the U.S. you rudely shoved aside while jumping in front of them in line.

A constant gripe among other Latin Americans who seek U.S. residency is the obnoxious (as they see it) Cuban habit of shoving them aside and jumping in front of the line. This results from the 1966 Cuban Adjustment Act that allows Cubans to apply for U.S. political asylum and thus legal residency, and thus citizenship, much faster and more easily than the process for the duskier huddled masses from other points south.

The traditional distinction, of course, was that Cubans (who much preferred living in Cuba previously; indeed in 1958, more Americans lived in Cuba than Cubans in the U.S.) were now fleeing an U.S. enemy/totalitarian regime that prohibited them re-entry.

Their status upon reaching U.S. shores actually had little to do with so-called “political pandering to the powerful Cuban-exile lobby,” and everything to do with something called the Refugee Relief Act signed into law by President Eisenhower in August 1953 to assist Iron Curtain refugees.

Came Castro’s Stalinist regime in 1959 and the Florida straits became a barrier far deadlier than the Iron Curtain. Multiple times more Cubans died trying to breach it than Germans attempting to breach the Berlin Wall. Essentially the Cuban Adjustment Act of 1966 simply codified the 1953 Refugee Relief Act for victims of tropical Stalinism.

In the ’50s and ’60s Czechs, Hungarians, Russians and East Germans admitted into the U.S. did not immediately clamor to visit the communist nations they just fled, and lavish them with dollars. In fact, the very notion was offensive and insulting to these genuine refugees. In the ’60s and ’70s and ’80s Cubans acted identically, if often more emotionally. Many dropped to the ground and kissed U.S. soil the instant they touched it, often in tears. Pictures and reels of the Mariel Boatlift and incidents before abound in such scenes — scenes that epitomize the motivation of the political refugees America has always welcomed. Those who planned returns to Cuba planned it with carbines and grenades in hand, until they learned (often gape-jawed) that — despite what they had heard daily from Castro’s media — the U.S. government, in fact, arrests any American resident who attempts to give the Castro regime a taste of its own medicine.

“Sorry,” said former President Bush’s policy in 2004 (as advised by Cuban-American Republican legislators.) “But if you’re going back and forth to that country with the full blessing of that country’s regime and spending thousands of dollars per trip, you’re not a political refugee from that regime by any stretch of the definition.”

The rest here.

13 thoughts on ““Don’t have to live like a refugee!””

  1. Come on, Humberto, haven’t you heard of trying to have it both ways? It’s, like, one of the most popular approaches out there. Ultimately it doesn’t work, but that never stopped anybody. It’s just so damn attractive.

  2. I commend the exile community that agree with Humberto’s article. A lot of people have this assumption that the exile community are selfish. This shows their true intent of having a free Cuba, and to do whatever it takes to oust communism from Cuba. I hope anyone that thinks otherwise to read this article, and see that Cuban exiles really have a conviction to see their people enjoy freedom!

  3. Humberto:

    Well said.

    BTW All should be reminded that Castro takes 20% of the top of every remittance or exchange fees

    then he gets the rest later, Not bad for a Zombie

  4. Humberto,

    This is indeed a very unpleasant issue to raise. But it is a valuable contribution to the debate. I would caution comparisons between the Cuban case and that of the countries of the former Soviet bloc. As difficult and dangerous as getting out of Cuba has historically been, many more Cubans on average have fled Cuba successfully than were able to do so from the Eastern Bloc. In short, there were no large communities of Poles and Czechs in the United States who would have been able to send remittances back to their home countries. I don’t know that they would have done anything differently from us if they had the opportunity. And if the Poles and Czechs had clammored to return to their countries as visitors, the governments of those nations would have denied them visas–this is something that the Cuban government has generally avoided doing. It may be asking too much for a man to decide never to see his family again or deny them the money to survive when the country holding his family captive is offering him visiting privileges and a chance to put food in their bellies. Talk about being entre la espada y la pared. A very complex issue all around.

  5. This is one that cuts several ways. While the restrictions keeping castro from getting additional monies did not remove him it also did not enlarge him. Was it ever going to happen? Who knows. Maybe oil would have gone up, maybe Iran would jave kicked in, maybe he was ready to go broke,whatever. There are several things that should be considered. I have resigned myself to the inevitable that change will only come from within. Blood will need to be shed by those on the island. We will not be able to buy freedom either way. No embargo will ever remove him, but that does not justify rewarding castro either. If they are satisfied with the status quo then so be it. We are here and they are there.Think what you want, but the fact is that freedom isn’t free so until the day the Cuban’s on the island say Ya No Mas it will NEVER change. As for the family visits and losing refugee status…. It should be done on a case by case basis. But which of us can judge? The old man who goes back to Cuba for the first time to see his mother die is one case that lends to sympathy. But then there is the greaseball that “escaped” and goes back with the gold chains and stays at Varadero.He is the one that should lose his immigrant status and actually be sent back if that were possible. I wish there were an easy solution. If we remove the wet foot dry foot we penalize those that legitimately need to leave. Its a lose lose situation. Castro has played peoples emotions against their sensibilities. None of us are immune. This is a dead issue unless people in Cuba really want to be free. We now each have to live according to our values. Can we criticize those that left and go back to spend money. In a way. Can we be criticized for not willing to go back and shed blood for the cause. In a way as well. I for one believe that one cannot go back and vacation, but at the same time wanting to help a desperate family member with needs versus niceties is a different thing. Castro has divided those from within and without. Now he is working on dividing us all.
    All the arguments, embargos, retrictions, etc are for moral principal only. And I might add well worth it. But until the price of freedom is paid there will be no freedom. That price is blood. Anyone ready to ante up? Here or there? I ask myself the same question.

  6. Cab is correct on the point that in the old eastern europe, once you escaped, if you returned, they’d arrest you, don’t even bother to give visa

  7. Caballero and Cigarmike:

    By the 1970’s some elderly Americans of Polish heritage were actually traveling to Poland–not to visit–but to live, to retire. There was a 60 Minutes show on it. After Kissinger’s Detente, travel to parts of Eastern Europe became about as easy as travel to Cuba under Carter and now Obama. In the 70’s Poland and Hungary(no less!) started trying to lure back their gusanos (turned mariposas.)
    Alas, those dull-witted Slavic leaders were never as sharp as the Castros, with their U.S. visa lotto that assures them a steady flow of remittances and travel lucre from their “refugees.”

  8. I say go further: If one raises a false statement (when claiming refugee status) then the DOJ is obligated to proceed with criminal prosecution, such action will lead to discovery of additional false statements related to applications for U.S citizenship whereby the perjury commited by signed false statement results on violators stripped of their U.S citizenship status and ultimately deported as criminal aliens.

  9. Let me put some “beans” in this pot.

    At least for me,”el exilio historico” is the MAXIMUM,something to honor,to respect and to follow,no matter what,’cause it’s fundamental basics of purity and nobility,and what they have done in USA in less than half century,economically,politically and socially.

    Having said that,i came to this country in ’95,balsero.I was twice in Combinado del Este,twice in Villa Marista,once in 100 y Aldabo,all because i was trying to escape from the island by sea or by trying to jump an embassy’s fence.
    Am i a “politico” or a “refugee” or a “guytryingtobefree”..???…All of the above..??…Some of that.??..

    On one hand,i respect cubans that don’t want to go back to the island ’till the regime falls.I also respect cubans that go to the island to see their mother,father,sons,etc.

    What i don’t respect and disagree is with cubans going to have a good time,”vacations”,etc,and all these hidden behind a “family visit”.

    I believe in “family first before any country or peace of land”.

    I have not been back in Cuba since i left,mainly ’cause i didn’t finish my sentence of 3 years,and i don’t know what could happen if i show up at the airport,so,next month im going to Spain to see my mom.I paid her plane ticket from Havana to Madrid,so we can be together.But,if i got the chance to go to the island,without going back to jail,and im able to see her,i go.

    Maybe im right,maybe im wrong,but that’s the way i feel and without any remorse o guilty feeling.

    By the way,i talked to a vietnamese friend about his community,about the travels to see family,etc,before and after the Clinton administration and the vietnamese “goverment” made “peace”,and the vietnamese community also has a “division”.Some go to see family,some go to make “businesses” with the goverment,some don’t go ’cause they are not allow,and some don’t go ’cause they are still waiting for democracy.But one thing struck me,and it’s that they are no so “deep into it”,in other words,they don’t put the “travel issue” among them as a principle to follow or to base any agenda.Simply that is a personal issue,and it is resolve according to each individual,without any “personal load of guilt” or judgement from their community.

    On one hand,it’s interesting to know how other cultures handle the same issue,and on the other hand,i,personally like the enterprenourship of the vietnamese community in the economy side,but i critiziced them for being so “apolitical”.

    Sorry if i was too long in my post,i just wanted to share an idea.


  10. Pototo: You are right and you are wrong, the heart of the deal is that no more than 5% of any given population is politically active or has any idea about how things work for real in any system, may look arrogant but in my worldwide experiences I’m convinced it works just so, been to many places you see. Known that about 15-20% of the island’s population hauled ass you must ask yourself if the other 80-85% that stayed really gives a squat shit about things that you and I value or do they even know about such things, in my trips to Miami the newcomers I encounter do not seem to care much about freedom, ideology, etc. but mostly care about the gold chains and “pacotilla” they are hauling on their next trip down there. To compare: over half (at times) of the American colonial population during the Revolucionary War supported the British Crown, the other half or less than half (at times) had French and Spanish support for the blood THEY SHED, we Cubans only had temporary half-ass support if any from anybody such even more difficult. Sadly it does not look, to me, that many over there are thinking about the ultimate sacrifice or for that matter even here but then I’ve been wrong before, take heart, for now I just care about America, the Cuba thing is a hobby and an interesting one at that lately, where once again the Dems are out to maje jackasses out of themselves that if if anyone other than us cares about Cuba.

  11. Doorgunner,
    Hopefully that is not the case for Cuba as if so then all is lost. But being how different Cubans have been througout history hope is that they are an exception. All we have left is moral conviction and passion for a land lost. How deep the passion runs in the case of Cubans here or there will dictate the actions taken. I do not believe we will ever see any armed action on this side whether militarily or covertly. So we are relegated to do what we can as individuals and watch and see if the Cubans in Cuba give a rip about their future. I like you have seen the apathy of the recent arrivals and have witnessed the returning gusanos loaded with gold, spiked heels, leather coats, etc. The painful reality is that we cannot desire their freddom more than they do. If so it is nothing but an effort in futility. I resepct our dissident brothers and sisters in Cuba, but disagree that their “peaceful” pacifist actions will lead to anything. Without national media exposure they are spitting into the wind. Thus they are left with one option and that is insurrection. From what I see that will never happen. Other than that only a total economic meltdown with not just shortages, but a total stopage of their government subsidies will trigger any movement. I recently painfully came to accepting the fact that the Cuba we left will never ever be the same no matter what happens. I am now coming to the conclusion that short of an uprising the Cuba we know today is the only Cuba that will ever exist. And that hurts greatly.

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