Cuban Refugee Lobby Protesting Asylum Restrictions

An article in the January 16 Miami Herald calls attention to protests by Cubans who are unhappy with what they see as new hurdles to getting asylum in the United States. (

Cubans are used to being treated as automatically approved asylum seekers, but that ended when the so-called “wet-foot-dry-foot” policy adopted by President Clinton was rescinded by President Obama. However the aura of special treatment of Cubans seeking entry is still perpetuated by the Cuban Adjustment Act (CAA) of 1966. Under that law, Cuban migrants arriving without visas are automatically eligible to become legal residents after one year in the country.

Since the Trump administration issued the Migration Protection Protocols (MPP) which require asylum applicants at the U.S.-Mexican border to remain in Mexico until a hearing with an immigration judge is available, Cuban arrivals have dropped steeply to 7,000 in fiscal year 2018 from over 41,500 two years earlier. Nevertheless, the CAA still reflects an assumption that any Cuban leaving the island is a political refugee fleeing oppression. That image is false, as demonstrated by the fact that currently most Cubans applicants are found ineligible for asylum, and the law should be repealed.

About Author


Jack, who joined FAIR’s National Board of Advisors in 2017, is a retired U.S. diplomat with consular experience. He has testified before the U.S. Congress, U.S. Civil Rights Commission, and U.S. Commission on Immigration Reform and has authored studies of immigration issues. His national and international print, TV, and talk radio experience is extensive (including in Spanish).

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