American foreign and migration policy should reflect Cuba in 2016, and not 1966, and there is a fairer and more human way of expediting the immigration process for Cubans as well as other foreign natives. Ninety miles of water is the only thing that stands in the way of Cuban migrants from the shores of Key West, Florida. In 1966 the United States in response to Cuba’s communist political association loosened up the rules of their current immigration system and created the Cuban Adjustment Act.
This act also known as the wet foot/ dry foot policy allows a native or citizen of Cuba, who has been inspected and admitted or paroled into the United States and has been physically present in the United States for at least one year, to apply for permanent residency in the United States. In reality this law means that if a Cuban native can reach United States land they are allowed to stay. If they are captured at sea they are sent home, just to embark on the same journey the next week.
The United States Coast Guard in 2015 stopped 4,462 Cubans who attempted to illegally enter the United States by sea. Coast Guard officials in Florida are alarmed by the increasingly drastic, and violent, tactics Cuban migrants are threatening, or using, to reach freedom. This law invites Cubans to take greater risks to reach U.S. shores, and is increasingly endangering the lives of the Coast Guardsmen charged with standing in their way. Desperation has caused men and women to severely injure themselves when the United States Coast Guard approaches so they are flown to a nearby United States hospital.
No other immigrant community is afforded the same on-arrival treatment. A number of Governors and State Representatives have called for action, including Mark Rubio, the son of Cuban immigrants, who stated “the special treatment afforded to those fleeing Cuba must be re-examined in light of outrageous abuse of the existing law.”
The United States Immigration Service has in place a system that grants refugee status or asylum to people who have been persecuted or fear they will be persecuted on account of race, religion, nationality, and/or membership in a particular social group or political opinion. This process allows for additional security measures, such as a fingerprinting and background checks, to ensure that the United States is affording the opportunity for migration while ensuring the safety of the Country. Ultimately this process ensures that applicants across the world who are really are in need of asylum are afforded it.
Therefore, repealing the Cuban Adjustment Act is the first step to create a working, fair, and human process to an immigration policy that allows equal protection to all.
8 U.S.C. § 1255 (2006)