Friendly reminder that undocumented Cubans on US soil already get “amnesty”

Congressional Research Service (emphasis mine):

“Most of the undocumented Cubans who arrive in the United States are allowed to stay and adjust to permanent resident status under the Cuban Adjustment Act (CAA) of 1966 (P.L. 89-732). The CAA, as amended, provides that certain Cubans who have been physically present in the United States for at least one year may adjust to permanent resident status at the discretion of the Attorney General—an opportunity that no other group or nationality has.”

While we’re splitting hairs over whether or not Senator Ted Cruz is a hypocrite for supporting a draconian immigration policy while being the son of an immigrant himself, it’s important to keep in mind the bigger picture here. For all this right-wing rage about “amnesty” for undocumented immigrants very little attention is paid to the fact that any Cuban who so much as sets foot on American soil has a good shot at permanent residency. Much of this is because Cuban immigrants–unlike Mexicans or Haitians fleeing neo-liberal capitalism–are perceived as fleeing communist repression and are thus given much more official sympathy.

The fact of the matter is that this simply is not fair. The Cold War is over. Cuba is no where near as repressive as it was immediately after the 1959 revolution. The firing squads are long gone. Meanwhile, Mexican peasants and workers who saw their livelihoods destroyed by US-promoted neo-liberal “reforms” and NAFTA are criminalized and demonized for pursuing a better life in the US. This dehumanization has rendered them easily exploitable serfs by unscrupulous employers as well as fodder for the prison industrial complex. (Did you even know that in 2002 the Supreme Court prohibited the NLRB from awarding compensation for illegal firings if the worker involved happens to be undocumented?)

Make no mistake about it: a large number of the Mexicans who migrated to the US without legal authorization did so under desperate circumstances. If our immigration system had the slightest modicum of fairness all undocumented immigrants from Mexico would all be eligible to seek permanent residency status as economic refugees. If Cubans can get a green card for fleeing dictatorship, then there’s no morally justifiable rationale for denying Mexicans legalization after they fled US-imposed economic deprivation.

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