Yale professor and Pedro Pan child Dr. Carlos Eire on how The New York Times blew Miami Archbishop Thomas Wenski’s faulty comparison to Cuban Pedro Pan kids way out of proportion.
NYTimes Story ‘Blown Way Out of Proportion,’ Says Cuban American Historian
The New York Times pits Florida Governor Ron DeSantis against Miami Archbishop Thomas Wenski, with Cuban Americans as the target
“DeSantis vs. Miami’s Archbishop, With Cuban Americans in the Middle,” screamed a March 15 New York Times headline that put Archbishop Thomas Wenski of Miami, a vocal advocate for immigrants, in the crosshairs of the city’s feisty Cuban-American community, with additional pushback from Florida’s Gov. Ron DeSantis..
The origins of the controversy date back to early 2022, when Archbishop Wenski sharply criticized the Republican leader’s efforts to restrict the resettlement of unaccompanied minors crossing the border in the state.
“DeSantis is trying to stop all federal programs in Florida that serve these unaccompanied kids as well as services to Cubans (and Haitians, Venezuelans, etc.) released by the U.S. under its ‘parole’ authority,” charged the archbishop in a Jan. 14 column entitled, “Why is Governor Going After Children?” for The Florida Catholic, the archdiocesan newspaper.
Archbishop Wenski warned that the governor’s policy could shutter the Church-run Cutler Bay shelter, which has cared for about 50 children under COVID-19 restrictions.
And in an effort to build his case by tapping the experience of local Catholics, the archbishop equated the large numbers of unaccompanied minors crossing the border today with the historic Operation Pedro Pan airlift that brought 14,000 Cuban children to America in the tumultuous aftermath of the 1959 Cuban revolution.
“Sixty years after Pedro Pan … there are new waves of unaccompanied minors,” from Central America, he wrote “[T]hey are not much different from those Cuban children of 60 years ago. The desperation that has led the parents of today’s unaccompanied minors is not unlike the desperation that motivated Cuban parents 60 years ago.”
In an email exchange with Register Senior Editor Joan Frawley Desmond, Eire shared his views on Archbishop Wenski’s comments, while dismissing the Times’ coverage of the dispute as politically motivated and “blown way out of proportion.”
Archbishop Wenski equated the Pedro Pan airlift that brought more than 14,000 children fleeing the communist takeover with the arrival of large numbers of unaccompanied migrant children from Central America fleeing poverty and gang violence. Why were his remarks controversial for some Cuban Americans?
His remarks might have been controversial to some in the Pedro Pan community because the archbishop made what philosophers call a “category mistake” — that is, he erroneously assigned a quality or action to one category of immigrants that can only properly be assigned to a totally different category.
The circumstances surrounding the migration of unaccompanied minors vary immensely, as do the circumstances of all migrations. The two waves of juvenile migrants compared by the archbishop are vastly different in a multitude of ways.
Read the entire interview with Carlos Eire HERE.