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Crossing the Border: It is Better to be Cuban

February 17, 2016
Plain English Version
Cubans waiting in Costa Rica on their way to Mexico and then into the United States. EZEQUIEL BECERRA/AFP/Getty Images)

Cubans waiting in Costa Rica on their way to Mexico and then into the United States. EZEQUIEL BECERRA/AFP/Getty Images)

Central Americans are not welcome at the U.S. border. Officials turn many away. Some may have to go to detentions centers. That is not the case with Cubans.

Cubans breeze through. They can get food stamps and Medicaid benefits soon after they arrive. They can apply to be citizens after about a year.  What is the reason for the difference in treatment?

The reason is Fidel Castro. In 1959, he imposed a new dictatorship in Cuba. The United States opposed Castro. The U.S. wanted to encourage Cubans to leave the country. Congress passed a law welcoming Cubans.

Many risked their lives to set foot in the U.S. Many died at sea. There was a brief period when Castro allowed his people to leave. For the most part, the trip from Cuba to America was hard and dangerous.

President Obama is restoring relations with Cuba. Now Cubans are worrying that their special status and access will come to an end. They may now have to line up with others to get into the U.S.

Cubans are going go to other countries in Central and South America. There they start the journey to America. When they get to the Mexican border, the U.S permits them to walk in.

This is creating tension with other refugees at the border. The value of being Cuban rather than Central American is clear to all.

An observer said, “People are not saying, do not let the Cubans in. They are pointing out the irony of an immigration system that allows them to come in. At the same time, that causes so much hardship to others.”

Source: The New York Times February 12, 2016

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