Saturday, January 21, 2017

Other immigrants shouldn’t cheer Obama’s blow to Cubans

Other immigrants shouldn't cheer Obama's blow to Cubans
By Fabiola Santiago By Fabiola Santiago Published 2:41 pm, Friday,
January 20, 2017

A little empathy is in order for the Cubans suffering and stranded en
route to the United States after President Barack Obama abruptly ended
the 21-year-old wet foot/dry foot policy. It's basic human decency.
Yet I see, hear and read a gotcha attitude and an inordinate amount of
glee in the reaction of other immigrants - and American liberals, too.
The discord has been ugly and divisive.
I don't understand immigration advocate Marleine Bastien, founder of
Haitian Women of Miami, claiming this anti-immigrant move as "a big day
for us." I thought being treated like the Cubans was the standard
everyone was aspiring to and fighting for in decades of demonstrations,
court battles and civic engagement.
Dragging another group down won't lift anybody up. It only makes things
"We just lowered the bar," a Miami immigration lawyer tells me.
Wet foot/dry foot, adopted by the Clinton administration in 1995 to
return Cubans interdicted at sea, allowed those who did reach U.S. soil
automatic entry without review of their history back in Cuba. Sure, it
was a stark contrast to how Haitians and Latin Americans are treated,
but those groups also benefited from the comparison when pressing their
cases for humanitarian relief.
Immigration lawyers have certainly used the Cuban standard to win relief
for their Haitian and Central American clients, who in the middle of
wars and disasters have received temporary protected status that in many
cases led to permanent residency. I've used it in columns to wake up
Cuban-Americans to the need to support immigrant children and their parents.
But what are Haitians and other immigrants likely to get now that they
didn't have before? Does it feel better to get the same bad, but equal
Even if you think wet foot/dry foot needed to end, that shouldn't
preclude anyone from caring about the plight of newly divided families -
or the suffering of the newly stranded.
There's Elaine Miranda, 21, who left Cuba eight weeks pregnant on a
flight to Trinidad and Tobago, not realizing that the long, treacherous
trek through the Amazon region and Guyana would force her to give birth
to a daughter while traversing the Panamanian jungle. Eight men carried
Miranda during two days of painful contractions until she was airlifted
by helicopter to a capital hospital.
"I drew strength from the hope that I was going to make it to the United
States," Miranda told a reporter for the Spanish newspaper El Pas. She's
in the town of Tapachula, in Chiapas, Mexico, where she and her husband,
Marcos Delgado, 25, and their baby are temporarily housed in a
ramshackle hotel along with about 50 stranded Cubans.
Obama's timing couldn't have been worse.
After ignoring the exodus from Cuba by land and sea for the past two
years as he made normalizing relations with Cuba a priority, his
11th-hour ending has created a humanitarian crisis at points all along
Latin America, at the U.S. border and in Miami.
How can a couple, ages 67 and 64, visiting their daughter in Miami and
arriving at the airport with a five-year tourist visa end up in
detention? Didn't the U.S. embassy in Havana grant that hard-to-get
visa? Hadn't they already established a record of visiting and returning
home? Now they're guilty until they prove themselves innocent. It's only
the beginning of the new policy, and it's already hunting season for
suspect Cubans by overzealous immigration agents.
I can buy the argument from people who're happy at the Cubans'
misfortune that Cuban-Americans haven't done enough to show empathy for
other communities. That's a generalization and a matter of perception,
largely based on the abandonment of immigration reform by politicians
like Miami's Sen. Marco Rubio. But he's not us.
President Obama, dubbed "Deporter-in-Chief" for the record-breaking
deportations throughout his presidency, is leaving in peril the Cubans
he set out to help with his "friendly" Cuba policy - only days away from
the inauguration of a president-elect who won on an anti-immigrant platform.
Other immigrants are cheering the move against the Cubans, but this is
bad news for them, too.

Source: Fabiola Santiago: Other immigrants shouldn't cheer Obama's blow
to Cubans - The Edwardsville Intelligencer -

No comments:

Post a Comment