Eliminating automatic refugee benefits for Cubans would save U.S. money,
The Congressional Budget Office found savings in a proposed bill
Its sponsors are U.S. Rep. Carlos Curbelo and Sen. Marco Rubio
Both South Florida Republicans want to pitch the law as a way to trim
the federal budget
BY PATRICIA MAZZEI
It seems obvious, but now a nonpartisan report confirms it: Ending
automatic welfare payments to Cuban immigrants would save the federal
That's according to the Congressional Budget Office, which analyzed
proposed legislation by U.S. Rep. Carlos Curbelo and Sen. Marco Rubio,
two Cuban-American Republicans from South Florida.
The CBO estimated the feds would save $2.45 billion over 10 years if
recently arrived Cubans were no longer treated automatically as refugees
deserving of food stamps and other aid. About $1.05 billion would be
saved from 2017-21, and another $1.4 billion from 2022-27.
The savings give Curbelo and Rubio a new selling point for their bill,
which they filed to curtail abuse by some Cuban immigrants who send the
money back to the island. GOP leaders in Congress — particularly House
Speaker Paul Ryan of Wisconsin — have said they're not interested in
taking up immigration legislation. With the CBO report in hand, Rubio
and Curbelo might have better luck pitching their proposal as a way to
"For too long, America's generosity has been abused, and this projection
from the Congressional Budget Office underscores the importance of
getting the Cuban Immigrant Work Opportunity Act passed as soon as
possible," Curbelo said in a statement in which he also praised Rubio
and more than 50 House co-sponsors of the legislation. "Together we will
make sure our country continues being a place of refuge and safety for
the victims of [Raúl] Castro's persecution while doing right by American
Rubio recently tried to tack the benefits cut onto other Senate
legislation, an unsuccessful effort that nevertheless drew wider
attention to the proposal. He has since said the bill would most likely
move first out of the House.
"The American people are a generous people, but those who are abusing
Cuban refugee benefits are taking American taxpayers for fools, and we
need to stop this abuse," Rubio said in a statement Wednesday. He also
mentioned the CBO report on the Senate floor.
Curbelo's and Rubio's proposal would amend an existing law that gives
Cuban immigrants, regardless of how they arrived in the United States,
automatic refugee status and the benefits that come with that. Most
other foreign nationals must be granted refugee status after an arduous
application process to qualify.
The legislation has the backing of the other Cuban Americans in
Congress. But it could still become a campaign issue for Curbelo in
November. His likely Democratic rival, former Rep. Joe Garcia, a
Cuban-American Democrat, has criticized the bill as an attempt by
established Cuban Americans to hurt newer Cuban arrivals.
Source: Eliminating automatic refugee benefits for Cubans would save
U.S. money, report says | In Cuba Today -