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Cuban Immigrants Overwhelming Services


Cuban migrants wait to be processed outside the Mexican National Institute of Migration shortly after they had crossed the Rio Suchate, the body of water that separates Guatemala from Mexico, that is being used by hundreds of Cubans headed to the United States. (Patrick Farrell/Miami Herald/TNS via Getty Images)

As many as 350 Cubans are arriving in El Paso everyday from Central America and it is taxing an already overwhelmed immigration service. While immigration from Mexico has greatly decreased over the past five years, immigration from Cuba has increased exponentially. Thousands of Cubans have left the island and gone to Nicaragua, Panama, Costa Rica and other countries as a stopping point on their way to the United States. The reason is pretty simple. Since the 60’s, Cubans have received special immigration status from the U.S. It’s a privilege no other immigrant group has. They are allowed to come to the United States undocumented and are welcomed into the U.S. if they get here. My own mother crossed the border in Tijuana, said she defected, and that was it. That’s her entire naturalization story.

But with the recent thawing in relations between the United States and Cuba, many Cubans are fearing that the American government will eliminate this special status and then if they wish to come to the United States they will have to go through the same process as everyone else. Their fears are not unfounded. Even Cuban-American hawk Marco Rubio has called for the removal of these special dispensations. It makes sense. How can we be friends with a nation in which we are still offering refugee status to its citizens?

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