Political Refugees: Dismantling the Cuban Adjustment Act

Miguel Fernandez Diaz  (Café Fuerte)

Reinaldo Peguero Pernas (center), flanked by Fidel Castro and Fidel Ramos, First Secretary of the Communist Party (Pinar del Rio), during a function at the end of the 1980s.
Reinaldo Peguero Pernas (center), flanked by Fidel Castro and Fidel Ramos, First Secretary of the Communist Party (Pinar del Rio), during a function at the end of the 1980s.

HAVANA TIMES — It seems to have become a trend now, after Raul Castro’s migratory reforms of January, 2013. Former high officials of the Castro regime who have concluded their terms in the government and Party are opting for a US visa to retire in Miami with their families, under the benefits afforded by the Cuban Adjustment Act.

Miami’s Telemundo 51 has just aired a report (titled Ajuste sin memoria, “The Forgetful Cuban

Adjustment Act”) dealing with former Cuban government official Reinaldo Peguero Pernas’ entry into the United States, after the US Interests Section (USINT) in Havana denied him a visa at the beginning of 2015. The 71-year-old Peguero Pernas then traveled to Mexico and crossed the border to kill two birds with one stone: to reunite with his daughters, who had settled in Miami, and secure the special benefits afforded Cuban immigrants, who enjoy better pensions in the United States than they do in Cuba.

Peguero is not just another Cuban who bode his time on the island all these years, expressing support for the government without sticking his head too high (as the majority of our compatriots do). We are talking about a man who was the provincial representative of the Ministry of Sugar (MINAZ) in Pinar del Rio, a member of the provincial government (1989-1993) and the provincial committee of the Communist Party (PCC). He is a signatory of the 2005 proposal to have Fidel Castro receive the Nobel Peace Prize and the petition addressed to the US Attorney General, calling for the release of the five Cuban spies belonging to the Avispa (Wasp) Network.

He was also involved in Cuban commercial operations in Mexico, Colombia, Brazil, Panama and Ecuador between 1998 and 2009.

Now, he has put his past behind him, stuck his time in the Castro regime in a drawer and decided to spend his retirement years in the United States.

The End of Ideologies

Peguero’s case confirms that we are witnessing the end of ideologies in the Cuban problem, which consists of Cubans themselves. The immense majority of Cubans move to the United States seeking a better life. They couldn’t care less about the struggle for freedom and democracy, for they know they can expect nothing from the opposition, unable to win the hearts and minds of the people and perfectly capable of one shameless blunder after the other, faced with the repressive apparatus of the one-party dictatorship.

Peguero also shows us – as Colonel Crescencio Marino Rivero did before him – that Cubans are also not interested in the “past glory” of those who played on the Castro team, as they can expect nothing from a government shamelessly bent on centralizing all decisions in an authoritarian fashion and decentralizing administrative matters anarchically.

Peguero’s case also confirms that no clear coordination exists between the State Department and the US Customs and Border Protection, to prevent the entry of Cubans who are not victims of political repression under the Cuban Adjustment Act. Being Cuban suffices to poke a hole through the US border, sneak into the country, secure permanent residency and shortly be back in Cuba without any difficulties, even after having accused the government of murder, as the case of Rosa Maria Paya illustrates.

The Open Border

In the past two years alone, a total of 67,437 Cubans have entered the United States through border points, chiefly along the Mexican border. This figure includes Cubans who have secured Spanish citizenship and other compatriots who arrive at the Miami International Airport and request asylum, claiming they are “fleeing from the tyranny.” These account for 14,708 people in the 2014 and 2015 fiscal years.

This is the reason Paul Gosar (R-AZ) and eight of his colleagues have submitted a bill (H.R. 3818) to “put an end to special immigration programs, based on national origin, for Cubans.” These nine congressmen claim that, following the re-establishment of diplomatic relations between Cuba and the United States, the special treatment afforded Cuban immigrants cannot be justified on the basis of “urgent humanitarian reasons or significant public benefit.”

As such, Cubans ought to be content with the same immigration laws that apply to citizens of other countries that the United States maintains diplomatic relations with.

Gosar’s legislative bill is misguided in requesting the repeal of the Cuban Adjustment Act (Public Law 89-732). As jurist Enrique Garica Morera has grown tired of explaining, this law was already repealed by the Illegal Immigration and Immigrant Responsibility Act (Public Law 104-208), which incorporated the Cuban Adjustment Act under Title 8, Section 606 of the Federal Code.

Legal Bases

That said, the bill aims at grabbing the bull by horns by requesting that the said federal statute be repealed. The statute requires that the US president acknowledge a “democratically elected” government in Cuba (as demanded by the Helms-Burton Act of 1996 under Section 204) before the Cuban Adjustment Act can be lifted.

This legal requirement can be eliminated only through another law that repeals it, as the US president cannot be expected to acknowledge a democratic government in Cuba. Removing this requirement is what Gosar and other proponents of bill H.R. 3818 are calling for. This would also do away with the Family Reunification Program (2007), the wet-foot/dry-foot policy and other programs and policies that afford Cuban migrants special privileges.

This move by these House republicans validates the core of the White House’s justification for normalizing relations with Havana: all prolonged tensions are false. The premise that Cuban immigrants are political refugees has not stood the test of time and the Cuban Adjustment Act has turned against itself, used as it is by the Castro regime to flood the United States with former officials, including Castro’s fellow travelers, such as Peguero, who come to retire in the bowels of the empire.

3 thoughts on “Political Refugees: Dismantling the Cuban Adjustment Act

  • November 14, 2015 at 6:23 pm

    The world has caught up to humanity and smaller controlled populations with stability
    can produce enough food and clean water as God has provided our space ship. Global accounting has established Cuban debt in ecology to be world leading and worth the price of admission provided the current system survives.
    The embargo blockade has not allowed for over population of Cuba and is that a bad thing? For the hungry yes for the well structured figures good calorie counts are sexy so enjoy the eye candy and fiesta your eyes for me the female form gets my salsa .real world women avoiding pirates cover your face and stay clear of truck stops, and north american slavery , God would tell profits I believe. Celebrate the greatness of your enviroment and plan with committees as always like God has shown thru the Popes of our existence have proven out true!
    Thank You

  • November 14, 2015 at 11:21 am

    The time to repeal the Clinton era, Helms Burton act and make changes to Cuban adjustment act has arrived. Cuba can best be helped via a more engaged approach. The people need to be empowered and that requires letting them prosper. The dependency relationship that the regime maintains is central to how they maintain control.

  • November 11, 2015 at 9:07 am

    So as the handful of Canadian-based Castro sycophants who frequently comment here at HT extoll the virtues of Castro-style socialism and blather on and on about how bright the future in Cuba seems, the Cubans who’s view of the future is from the first row seem to be escaping at increasing frequency.

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