Getting away from Muslim migrants for a moment, we have a story this morning about how federal refugee resettlement contractor (one of the big nine***), Church World Service, helps Cubans who are ECONOMIC migrants, not refugees, get settled in America.
I’ve been wondering lately what Obama’s change in US/Cuban relations will have on the thousands and thousands of Cubans still arriving in the US under that ridiculous “wet foot, dry foot” policy.
If we normalize relations with Cuba, why would there be any “refugees” coming here? Or, will his policy simply open the pipeline completely for one and all to fly right in?
A refugee by definition is escaping persecution. People wanting a job and social services are economic migrants and not eligible for refugee status (unless you are Cuban of course).
They are coming here for American jobs! Remember! Your tax dollars pay for most of the services of Church World Service! See how much here.
Here is the story from PRI.org (emphasis below is mine):
Forget for a second that you live in the United States, that you know its laws, know English, know what a Social Security number is, let alone worrying about having one.
Now imagine that’s the wave of information you are trying to absorb, quickly, in a small conference room in Miami. That’s exactly what happens to some families when they arrive in the United States.
Miguel Laguna helps guide them through the bewildering process. He’s a caseworker at Church World Service, a refugee resettlement agency with an office in the Miami area. Most of the Miami office’s clients are Cubans. [Miami office website is here–ed]
Laguna goes over with the family how to take the bus, apply for citizenship and where to study English. It’s a lot to take in.
Ramos sits with his wife, Ailén, and his son, also named Ismael. The family tells me it took two days and two nights in a small boat to reach Florida. They got lost in the Gulf of Mexico, but eventually made it. “The GPS broke, so we didn’t know where we were for a while,” Ailén says.
They say they left Cuba because there’s no work there. Ailén says she was a gym teacher making $12 a month, a pretty typical salary in Cuba. The family thought of leaving for years, but sped up their plans for fear that the United States’ unique and controversial “wet foot, dry foot” policy might disappear.
That policy says that Cuban migrants who make it to shore — “dry foot” — won’t be sent back, and will essentially be granted US residency after a year and one day in this country. The original intent was to drain the best and brightest from communist Cuba by dangling US visas, so some Cubans worry that better US-Cuba relations will lead to a change in policy.
Only Congress can make changes to “wet foot, dry foot,” and that could take a while. But the rumors that the policy might disappear persist in Cuba, and a rising number of people are leaving the island for the US on boats or, in some cases, by land through Latin America.
Laguna does note that this family has an advantage: They have relatives living in Miami. For Cuban refugees who arrive alone, there’s a lot of uncertainty.
I ask them why they left Cuba. They all say similar thing: “the economy,” “jobs,” “no work.”
It’s an answer that fuels a growing argument: Why treat Cubans differently than Guatemalans who flee gangs and poverty? What about Mexicans wanting to send money back to their relatives back home, or people fleeing war and repression elsewhere who must petition for asylum in the United States? Why give Cubans a special pass?
Of course what they are working up to is not changing the fact that Cubans get a pass with special treatment, but they want every other person in the world who needs a job or is fleeing crime to get the same pass without that messy business of applying for asylum!
By the way, we make 20,000 slots available every year IN CUBA for truly persecuted people, they don’t have to take risky voyages! Those taking the risky trip are job seekers—economic migrants!
It was Church World Service’s role in the county where I live that is responsible for the birth of this blog.
*** For new readers, these are the nine major federal resettlement contractors:
- Church World Service (CWS)
- Ethiopian Community Development Council (ECDC)
- Episcopal Migration Ministries (EMM)
- Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society (HIAS)
- International Rescue Committee (IRC)
- US Committee for Refugees and Immigrants (USCRI)
- Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Services (LIRS)
- United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB)
- World Relief Corporation (WR)