By Joe Guzzardi
April 27, 2016
When the federal government makes no sincere effort to protect its borders and therefore its sovereignty, it sends an invitation to the world that once migrants make it to the United States, they’ll be protected.
For years, Central Americans have literally walked through Mexico and across the Southwest border. Instead of being returned, as immigration law requires, the Department of Health and Human Services has helped settle them. Once the first surge of so called unaccompanied minors was safely resettled in 2009, subsequent waves, confident in the knowledge that there would be no adverse consequences for their actions, increased by 239 percent during the following three years. Recently, Customs and Border Protection advised Congress that it expects a record 75,000 Central Americans, not all of them minors, to enter during fiscal 2017.
Now, another migratory crisis is percolating. This one, like the Central American surge before it, has the White House’s tacit approval but remains below the public’s radar. According to State Department testimony to the Senate Foreign Relations subcommittee, Costa Rica and Panama have airlifted 8,000 Cuban migrants from those countries to northern Mexico where, with the Mexican government’s cooperation, they illegally crossed into the U.S. Cubans have mostly given up on migrating by sea to the Florida Key because of the comparatively high risk of Coast Guard interdiction and their subsequent return. Pursuant to the 1966 Cuban Adjustment Act, Cubans who make it to U.S. soil are eligible for permanent residency after one year, strong incentive to make the journey. Instead of penalties, Cubans are immediately eligible for a host of generous welfare benefits.
Officially, the State Department’s response to the Central American smuggling scam is weak—the government is politely “encouraging” Central American nations to stop flying Cuban nationals to Mexico. But the government is not warning those countries that they will face harsh payback if they continue to violate their own immigration laws, and transport Cubans to Mexico for the express purpose of enabling their easy entry into the U.S. Under questioning from the Senate committee, a State Department official admitted that his office has “not told them [the Central American nations] not to do the airlift.”
The State Department claims that its failure to respond to ramped up Cuban and Central American immigration abuses is attributable to the economic plight and human rights violations in those countries. But millions of people in hundreds of nations face the same challenges. When Gallup polled people living in 154 countries where they would prefer to migrate, 138 million chose the U.S. with the U.K. a distant second with 42 million.
Although improbable under the current administration, the two best solutions would be to deny Cubans admission, an option permissible if they’re not granted parole, and to then order them immediately returned to Mexico, Costa Rica or Panama. Should those countries balk, as is likely, then U.S. could its power of the purse, and deny the aiding and abetting countries the hundreds of millions in funding given to them each year.
A second and more permanent solution is to repeal the Cuban Adjustment Act, a Cold War relic that has no practical purpose in the 21st Century. Legislation to achieve that goal, the CUBA Act, has been introduced in the House, but is unlikely to go anywhere in a presidential election year. The bill, which would help preserve the historic American nation, should be among the incoming administration’s top priorities.
Joe Guzzardi is a Californians for Population Stabilization Senior Writing Fellow. Contact him at [email protected]