Saturday, January 14, 2017

Obama’s timing on Cubans raises some questions


Over the last few years, many of my Latin American friends have asked the same question: Why do you Cubans get preferential treatment?  
The answer is complex but it is based on the reality that we come from a communist dictatorship devoid of any human rights. In other words, things may be bad in Mexico but they have multiparty elections and a free press. Mexican immigrants are usually looking for economic opportunities not political freedom.
Also, to be fair, it is also true that Cubans are concentrated in Florida, a state with the third largest electoral votes on the map.   
On Thursday, President Obama decided to cancel the “Wet Foot, Dry Foot” policy that has allowed Cubans to claim legal status if they make it here.    
My initial reaction was twofold:
 
First, why now? We will have a new president in a week. Why make this decision at this stage of the transition? Was Mr. Trump consulted?    
This decision puts president-elect Trump in a difficult position. He can accept the decision and irritate the Cuban-Americans who put him over the top in Florida, or he can restore special treatment of Cubans and risk attacks that other immigrants are being treated differently.
Second, can President Obama even do this? Can a President reverse an immigration policy? Didn’t his executive order about “the dreamers” run into a wall last year?
What happens now? My guess is that some human rights group will challenge the decision because no one knows what will happen to the Cubans returned, as Senator Marco Rubio indicated.
Also, did President Obama get any concessions from Raul Castro that these Cubans won’t be treated like “traitors” when they go back? In the past, returning Cubans have been targeted by the regime.    
My hope is that President Trump reverses Obama’s decision and calls on Cuba to make some concessions, such as a guarantee that these Cubans will not be targeted. It could be part of a new deal with Cuba that is based on helping the Cuban people rather than making a deal for the sake of making a deal.
P.S. You can listen to my show (Canto Talk) and follow me on Twitter.

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