A survey to know the feelings of American citizens about the problem of undocumented immigrants living in the United States, from the perspective of their party affiliations, showed a significant outcome.
The survey released last June had only one question: “How should the immigration system deal with immigrants currently living in the U.S. illegally?”
62 percent of all Americans, 70% of the Democrats, 61% of the Independents, and 51 percent of Republicans support a path to citizenship for immigrants already living in the U.S. illegally.
However, among self-identified Tea Party members, only 37 percent backed a path to citizenship, while an equal number wanted to "identify and deport" undocumented immigrants.
In an article published in the latest issue of "The Week", based on data from the survey released in June from the Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI) and Brookings sociological research, journalist Peter Weber, highlighted a singular exception to the Tea Party opposition to that immigration "amnesty": Cuba.
Since 1966, Cuban immigrants have had special protections and paths to citizenship under the Cuban Adjustment Act with its propaganda aims. Cuban nationals do not need to lie about their circumstances. When they travel to the U.S. they need not abide by the same rules that apply to economic immigrants from all other countries, because they enjoy the privileges granted by the Act.
Under a 1995 adjustment to the policy called "wet feet, dry feet," all Cubans who make it to shore are eligible for legal U.S. residency after one year, and eventually citizenship. In other words: amnesty.
Paradoxically, the two Latino politicians most identified with the Tea Party, Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), are both Cuban Americans, and both benefited, directly or indirectly, from this special path to citizenship.
Rubio’s political base is the South Florida Cuban American community that grew out of those who “benefited” from the Cuban Adjustment Act. Rubio’s parents arrived in Florida in 1956, three years before Fidel Castro took power; and could travel back and forth between Cuba and the U.S. without hassle until they got their U.S. citizenship in 1975.
Ted Cruz’s is a more complicated case. He has noted proudly that his parents were never in the U.S. illegally, and this allows him to be one of the most vocal opponents from the Tea Party tribune to the amnesty claimed by undocumented immigrants.
Weber quotes conservative radio commentator Rush Limbaugh whose radio show is broadcasted by more than 600 radio stations in the U.S. In early 2013, during the height of the GOP’s post-election immigration-reform fever, Limbaugh cautioned the Republicans to drop their quixotic quest to win over Latinos: “Republicans think that Hispanic immigrants are made-to-order conservatives following the Cuban exile model. But the Cuban exile model is no longer the dominant model. The Mexican immigrant model is.” And these— according to Limbaugh– arrive with an entirely different view of America.
The Tea Party, not being an actual political party, doesn’t have an official platform. But the national GOP’s 2012 plank on Cuba is probably a decent stand-in. In it, the GOP pledges to "affirm the principles of the Cuban Adjustment Act of 1966, recognizing the rights of Cubans fleeing Communism.”
Regarding all other immigration, the GOP’s 2012 platform is a little less accommodating: “We recognize that for most of those seeking entry into this country, the lack of respect for the rule of law in their homelands has meant economic exploitation and political oppression by corrupt elites. In this country, the rule of law guarantees equal treatment to every individual…. That is why we oppose any form of amnesty for those who, by intentionally violating the law, disadvantage those who have obeyed it. Granting amnesty only rewards and encourages more law breaking.”
“Just remember, when the Tea Party politicians and rank and file demand an end to "amnesty" for immigrants, they don’t really oppose amnesty in principle, they just oppose it for certain groups,” concludes journalist Peter Weber.
September 27, 2014
A CubaNews translation. Edited by Walter Lippmann.