The Cuban Adjustment Act and the Gang of Eight

Published on April 10th, 2013

During the two weeks that Congress has been on its spring break, political analysts have speculated about whether Senator Marco Rubio will stay in the Gang of Eight.

In her letter to Rubio, Eagle Forum founder Phyllis Schlafly wrote that:

“I urge you to resign from the Gang of Eight and reject all variations of amnesty, even when it goes under code words such as reform, comprehensive, pathway to citizenship, etc. All these proposals build votes for the Democrats, none for Republicans. Grassrooters are particularly annoyed at the secrecy of the Gang’s meetings, after hearing so much about the need for transparency.”

Let’s speculate that Rubio has presidential ambitions. Let’s further assume that since Rubio is a political creature, it’s fair to think that he must be asking what if anything does he stand to gain by staying in Gang. The short answer is nothing.

If Rubio was motivated to join the Gang to increase the historically low Hispanic vote total for Republicans, should he chose to run, he needs to reconsider that strategy.

A major problem for Cuban-American Rubio: the United States’ illegal alien population is about 70 percent Mexican but only 3 percent Cuban.

Once they become citizens, Mexicans are unlikely to vote for a Cuban. The reason is simple. When it comes to immigrating to the United States, Cubans get what Mexicans perceive as preferred status. Because of the 1966 Cuban Adjustment Act, Cuban refugees who flee the island and reach the U.S. shoreline before the Coast Guard apprehends them have a clear path to legal residency and eventual citizenship. This policy is commonly referred to as "wet foot-dry foot"

Mexicans don’t have the same advantage. When the Border Patrol catches an illegal crosser, he’s usually sent back to his country of origin.

Since illegal immigration as most analysts define it doesn’t exist for Cubans, Mexicans have built up a certain understandable resentment toward them because of the federal immigration policy differences. The road for Rubio to get Mexican votes would be uphill.

In addition to Rubio’s Mexican vote getting problem, staying in the Gang doesn’t help him with Cubans specifically or Republicans in general. The immigration bill that’s set to drop soon is chocked full of good things for Mexicans and others from Central and South America. But since most Cubans are legal immigrants, an amnesty package means nothing to them except to remind them of the preferential treatment for Mexicans.

Rubio’s close association with the Gang’s liberal Democrats Chuck Schumer, Dick Durbin and Mike Bennet has lost him friends in high GOP places. See Schafly’s above letter as Exhibit 1.

In the end, imagine the collective reaction within the GOP if a smiling Rubio is seen shaking hands with ultra-liberals like Schumer et al should the unpopular bill passes.

If Rubio’s question is should I stay or should I go, the answer is clear. Rubio’s best move is to denounce the amnesty bill as not in America’s best interest and let the remaining seven figure it out for themselves.

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