Top Pro-Amnesty Lawmaker Lashes Out at Special Immigration Status, Welfare for Cubans

AP/Harry Hamburg

The most vocal, pro-amnesty lawmaker in Congress lashed out Thursday at the special immigration privileges granted to Cubans who show up at U.S. ports of entry compared to the outrage over the surge of Central American migrants across the southern border.

“There are more people seeking refugee status from Cuba coming through the border, yes the Texas border — between Mexico and the United States — than any other single country that has been testified to here,” Rep. Luis Gutiérrez (D-IL) said at a House Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration and Border Security hearing examining the surge in illegal immigration at the southern border.

Since the Obama administration moved to normalize relations with Cuba last year there has been a spike in migration from the island dictatorship to the U.S. Cubans fear that the special immigration privileges the U.S. has offered to Cubans who make it to the U.S. since the 1960s will end.

“As a matter of fact, in the last year 43,000 [Cubans] — the immense majority of them coming though ports of entry to the United States of America but nobody ever talks about them. And they get automatic — what do they get? They get automatic [refugee status],” Gutiérrez said.

According to the Pew Research Center the more than 43,000 Cubans that entered the U.S. in fiscal year 2015 is a 78 percent increase over FY 2014 when over 24,000 came to the U.S.

“Because you don’t even ask them. As soon as they say ‘I’m from Cuba,’” Gutiérrez clapped his hands, “refugee status, and here’s your green card and American citizenship three years later. And, by the way, why don’t you have the food stamps and get on [Supplemental Security Income] and every other government service but nobody has ever talked about that.”

Gutiérrez compared the streamlined process for Cubans seeking asylum to the surge of Central American migrants across the U.S.-Mexico border.

“And I think it’s a shame that we’re talking about the border and we don’t talk about people seeking — children… fleeing drug cartels, fleeing murderers, rapists, drug traffickers, fleeing them for their very lives,” he said. “And yet we have 43,000 people coming from Cuba, they’re automatically given asylum in the United States with not one question asked, all they have to do is come.”

The Illinois lawmaker concluded that the different treatment is due to politics.

“I think we all know why. Because it is politics when it comes to a certain group of people and politics when it comes to another group of people and I think it’s shameful,” Gutiérrez said.