Now that the Obama administration has moved to normalize relations with Cuba, it’s time to end the “unique treatment” of Cubans fleeing oppression, The New York Times argues.
“[I]t is time to do away with the policy, a Cold War relic that is hindering the normalization of relations between Washington and Havana,” a Times editorial reads.
“Congress should repeal the Cuban Adjustment Act, a 1966 law that created an expedited mechanism to admit Cubans at a time when the United States was seeking to undermine a Soviet ally. Under a longstanding policy, called “Wet Foot, Dry Foot,” Cubans who reach the United States get to stay, and those interdicted at sea are returned home,” it adds.
The Times says the policy has benefited not just Cubans but human smugglers who profit off the policy, and has been used as an excuse for the Cuban government to impose even more controls on people. Additionally, the editorial argues, that policy has prevented the U.S. from thoroughly vetting of Cuban refugees.
According to the newspaper, if Congress does not change the policy, the Obama administration could move to negotiate a new agreement with Cuba to normalize immigration from the country.
“In exchange, the Cuban government should be required to accept the return of Cubans who are subject to American deportation orders because they have been convicted of crimes; roughly 34,500 Cubans in this category remain in the United States because Havana has refused to issue them travel documents,” the editorial reads. “Cuban officials should also agree to rescind the travel restrictions imposed on medical workers this month, a measure that contravenes international human rights law.”
The paper quoted the leader of the dissident group “Patriotic Union of Cuba” José Daniel Ferrer, as an example of what the paper says is the unpopularity of the policy even among those who oppose the Castro regime.
“We respect the right of people to immigrate,” Ferrer said, according to The Times. “But as Cubans concerned about the future of our nation, we see with great anguish that Cuba is emptying out.”
The Times concluded that American officials cannot explain the “special treatment” granted Cubans leaving the island dictatorship, contrasting the treatment with “to the harsh way the United States typically treats Central Americans, including minors, many of whom are fleeing for their lives.”