Politics, Not Principles, Still Setting Immigration Policy

By Freivalds, John | Telegraph - Herald (Dubuque), July 20, 2014 | Go to article overview

Politics, Not Principles, Still Setting Immigration Policy


Freivalds, John, Telegraph - Herald (Dubuque)


No one in Minneapolis remembers the Soto family of five. They were part of the 125,000 immigrant wave of Cubans kicked out by Fidel Castro from April to October 1980. They became part of my life 34 years ago.

Often called the "Marielitos," they were the undesirables that Castro didn't want. He actually said he was "flushing the toilet."

But the U.S. gave asylum to all 125,000 because the Miami Cubans, a powerful voting bloc of exiles who are now voting American citizens, wanted it, and U.S. politicians needed their votes. Forget about the words of Emma Lazarus written in 1883 that are engraved on the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty:

"Give me your tired, your poor,

Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free ..."

Given how the immigrant children of Central America are being treated today, those words should read:

"OK, give me your poor only if they have a voting bloc with clout in the U.S. backing them and only if they aren't placed in my backyard."

Even Glenn Beck calls the U.S. policy toward the current wave of immigrants "cold and reprehensible."

At one time, 125,000 of these Marielitos found themselves in Florida, but they soon overwhelmed the area and U.S. federal agencies flew half out to Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Arkansas. And the government spent millions to find places for them in the U.S. - not to deport them as now.

They represented a political liability to the governors of the states where they were sent, and Bill Clinton, then governor of Arkansas, lost an election because of that. The Encyclopedia of Arkansas put it this way: "Clinton is among those who felt that the association of the Cuban refugee problem with Clinton's term as governor led to his losing the next election." Hillary Clinton remembers this. She recently told a CNN town hall meeting, "Just because a child gets across the border, that doesn't mean a child gets to stay."

Lutheran Social Services, which was the Sotos' sponsor, decided to take in part of the 8,298 resettled by the Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service, which coincidentally was the same agency that arranged for my family to immigrate to the U. …

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