The Cuban Refugee Adjustment Act—the U.S. law that favors Cubans over all other immigrants—might get an overhaul in the course of immigration reform, courtesy of the very politicians who’ve most benefitted from it: Republicans, and specifically, Cuban-American Republicans.
Sen. Marco Rubio, Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart have all suggested that it might be time to “tweak” the law that helped build their South Florida power base of Cuban-American voters.
The law, enacted in 1966, was designed to legalize the status of Cubans who fled to the U.S. after the 1959 Communist revolution. It gives Cubans immediate parole, allows them to come into the country by any means (legal or not), makes it virtually impossible to deport them, and gives them legal residency in one year and one day, among other perks. In addition to the Adjustment Act, the United States also guarantees a minimum of 20,000 annual visas to Cubans under a 1994 treaty—a fixed quota not available to any other country.
From the U.S. point of view, those leaving Cuba are fleeing persecution by a Communist dictatorship. But from the Cuban government perspective, many are just fleeing economic conditions.
Here’s the weird part: Rubio, Ros-Lehtinen and Diaz-Balart, usually on their party’s right-wing, have started to see some merit in the Cuban government’s argument.