Rep. David Rivera: Readjusting the Cuban Adjustment Act

When the Cuban Adjustment Act (CAA) was signed into law decades ago, it was meant to give immediate asylum in the U.S. to Cubans fleeing oppression and persecution in their homeland. Recently, however, we are seeing an increasing number of Cuban refugees arriving in the U.S. claiming political asylum and then on day 366 (when they receive their green card thanks to the CAA), they are on the first flight back to Cuba to enjoy a vacation in one of the Castro dictatorship’s tourist-only resorts. This behavior by some (not all) Cuban refugees not only makes a mockery of the Cuban Adjustment Act, it is an insult to the Cuban refugees who sincerely seek asylum in this country. I am referring to the refugees truly persecuted in Cuba who once they escape, the dictatorship would never allow them to return.

Rep. David Rivera’s House Bill HR 2831 aims to readjust the Cuban Adjustment Act. For Cubans who are truly politically persecuted in Cuba and seek asylum in this country, this bill will have no effect on them whatsoever. However, for those Cubans who instead of seeking asylum are seeking to game the system here in the U.S., this bill puts an end to their shenanigans. By prohibiting Cuban asylum seekers from traveling back to the country that purportedly persecuted them to enjoy a tourist vacation just 366 days after their arrival, it ends the mockery that some Cuban refugees have made of the CAA. Political asylees from every other country have to abide by this requirement, and it is only fair that Cuban aslyees are subject to the same requirements.

While some want to portray Rep. Rivera’s bill as inhumane and a punishment, the reality here is that HR 2831 is an honest effort by the representative to safeguard and protect the Cuban Adjustment Act and Cubans who are truly persecuted and seek asylum in the U.S. If the current disregard for the law and the gaming of the system carried out by some Cuban exiles continues, the CAA will eventually be deemed outmoded and useless. Once that happens, it is only a matter of time until the law is eliminated, leaving repressed and persecuted Cubans on the island with no escape from tyranny. What is truly inhumane and deplorable is how some of the adversaries of this bill are more interested in protecting the rights of vacation seekers and mules who traffic in merchandise to Cuba than the rights of the genuinely persecuted Cubans on the island. For them, it seems the ability for a few Cuban exiles to vacation and do business on the island is more important than ensuring Cuba’s oppressed and those who fear for their lives have an ability to escape the despotic dictatorship.

De verdad que da pena.

The Miami Herald’s Naked Politics Blog has more on Rep. Riviera’s bill.