Cuban Adjustment Act as we know it may not last much longer

As more and more Cubans arrive in the U.S. and receive preferential immigration treatment through political asylum only to return to Cuba frequently as tourists and for business deals as soon as they receive their green cards, the Cuban Adjustment Act as we know it may not last much longer.

Juan Tamayo in the Miami Herald:

Politicians call for revision of Cuban Adjustment Act

Reforms in Cuba’s migration law plus a review of U.S. immigration policy are prompting calls for a new look at how Cubans are admitted to the United States


A woman holding her Cuban passport lines up with others at a migration office in Havana, Cuba, Monday, Jan. 14, 2013. Cubans formed long lines outside travel agencies and migration offices, as a highly anticipated new law took effect Monday, ending the island's much-hated exit visa requirement. The measure means the end of both real and symbolic obstacles to travel by islanders, though it is not expected to result in a mass exodus. Most Cubans are now eligible to leave with just a current passport and national identity card, just like residents of other countries. (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa)

An odd confluence of efforts at migration reforms in Washington and Havana has sparked calls for a review of the Cuban Adjustment Act — the U.S. law that has provided the greatest benefits to Cuban arrivals for the last half century.

Sen. Marco Rubio and Reps. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and Mario Diaz-Balart, all South Florida Republicans and Cuban-Americans, say the CAA needs tweaking to stop abuses by those who “fled communism” and yet return repeatedly to the island.

And while the Obama administration and Democrats in Congress appear determined to keep the law intact, some advocates of improved U.S.-Cuba relations are calling for its total elimination as a Cold War leftover that gives Cubans benefits not available to any other migrants.

Under debate are whether Cubans are escaping repression or are economic migrants, the letter and spirit of the CAA and whether new arrivals still need the benefits of a 47-year-old law that fast tracks U.S. residency after just one year and one day.

Those questions burgeoned after reforms to Havana’s migration system on Jan. 14 created the possibility that more Cubans would be arriving in the United States, obtaining U.S. residency and then returning to the island quickly enough to retain their residency there.

The Obama administration had already lifted virtually all restrictions on Cuban-American travel to the island for family reunification visits. Washington also guarantees a minimum of 20,000 visas to Cubans per year — an assurance not available to any other country — under a 1994 bilateral agreement designed to discourage illegal and risky attempts to escape the island by sea.

The CAA, which was approved in 1966, was designed to normalize the status of about 123,000 Cubans who had fled Fidel Castro’s revolution and been “paroled” into the United States but were in immigration limbo. Well over 1 million Cubans have now obtained U.S. residency under the law, officially named the Cuban Refugee Adjustment Act.

Rubio has said that he and other senators now negotiating a U.S. migration reform package might not “be able to avoid, as part of a comprehensive approach to immigration, a conversation about the Cuban Adjustment Act.”

“It’s becoming increasingly difficult to justify it for my colleagues when there are people who come to the United States … and within a year and a day are traveling to Cuba 25 and 30 times a year” Rubio told journalists recently. “That being said, it’s important for us to remind people that Cuba is a tyrannical regime.”

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