When someone breaks the law, they should be punished. And when a foreign government encourages people to do it, that government should be held to account as well. For decades Cuban regime officials have encouraged Cubans to leave the island for the United States, adjust their status under very generous U.S. immigration laws, and grow Cuba’s remittance and travel industrial complex. Granted, not all Cubans that arrives from Cuba are part of this network, however, there are thousands that are and it is time the U.S. government cracked down on it.
What started out as a temporary legal device to adjust the status of victims of Cuban Communism, since the late 1990s has become a tool that the Communist Party of Cuba abuses to prop up a business and remittance network in the United States. Unlike illegal aliens from other nations, if a Cuban arrives on U.S. shores he or she, in essence, is granted automatic asylum. The Cuban Adjustment Act of 1966 was supposed to be a short-term measure, however, it made sense to keep it around until the end of the Cold War. However, when Cuba lost its main economic sponsor, the Soviets, it should have been replaced or amended. Republicans and Democrats toyed with the idea, but few have had the political courage to make it so.
The CAA is partially responsible for propping up Castro Cuba Inc. – a remittance and retail network based in the U.S. that sends billions in cash, goods, and services, to Cuba every year. This outdated law has been abused by the regime for far too long. It is exploited by hundreds of thousands of non-exiles or economic refugees, rather than help genuine cases of political persecution. The CAA has also made it easier for Cuba to prop up and support its vast spy networks in the U.S. and cause other forms of mischief. The Left, supporters of easing sanctions on Cuba, and the regime, claim to dislike the law and have called for its repeal for a long time. They know not what they say or do.
Until Congress says otherwise by amending existing law, U.S. policy toward Cuba remains assistance for the people of Cuba and economic sanctions on the regime. The CAA is out of harmony with that policy construct. It is also long past its “sell by” date. To help build a civil society and opposition movement in Cuba requires bitter medicine in the short term. If we continue to allow an escape valve via the CAA for thousands of Cubans to leave Cuba, we will never see the changes envisioned under U.S. law, at least not anytime soon.
Legions of Washington, DC special interest groups that are helping Cuba ease U.S. sanctions argue that the only way to change the CAA is by removing all sanctions. While that approach would be consistent with the policy of capitulation and surrender of the Obama administration, it would be a wrong and dangerous move. Cuba may have come off the state sponsors of terrorism list, but they remain a terror state. Cuba is urging foreign companies, and thanks to the new regulations Americans, to traffic in stolen property. Scores of senior Communist Party officials are serial human rights abuses and, yes, war criminals. Cuba remains a regional and, albeit low-grade, international security threat. In other words, Cuba has done nothing the past year to warrant any easing of economic sanctions. Quite the opposite.
There is nothing humane about allowing the thousands of Cuba migrants to rot away in several Central American nations; however, the current Cuban migrant crisis, Obama’s (potential) Mariel, could become much worse. The regime will, as they did in 1980, use these people to bully a weak American president to secure concessions, such as securing more tourist travel and access to the U.S. market. Policymakers must not fall for the bait this time. Congress should impose a moratorium on any more adjustments under the CAA and begin to shelve it. Rep. Carlos Curbelo (R-Fla.) has a good plan under consideration. Cuba must control its borders. And our State Department should cancel any future talks unless focused on matters to advance the U.S. national interest such as certified claims, border security, and a whole list of issues contained in the transition roadmap of the Cuban Liberty and Democratic Solidarity Act and the Cuban Democracy Act.