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On Monday, the Washington Post unveiled details of a bi-partisan attempt at immigration reform sponsored by Senators Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) and Thom Tillis (R-NC). Aspects of this legislation were discussed by a colleague, Matt Vespa at Townhall, including the fact that when “Dreamers” (Childhood Arrivals, or DACA recipients) are legalized they will be able to sponsor extended family members to immigrate. Criticism also surrounds the unaddressed source of funding mechanisms for border security provisions.
But, there’s another issue: this proposal sheds light on the fact we have a two-tier immigration system. The bill speeds up asylum claims processing and their deportations. To be clear, this proposal seeks to take people on the deferred deportation list (Dreamers) who indeed entered this nation illegally (as children) and have not been deported due to overzealous and illegal executive action (DACA) and give them paths to full citizenship. To the migrants who presented at ports of entry, legally entered with asylum claims, we only promise to sort them faster and deport them effectively.
And, it’s not the asylees fleeing human rights disasters and persecution that are offered to sponsor extended family to immigrate as well, it’s the Dreamers. Isn’t the argument against deporting Dreamers that they were brought as children and would be dropped into nations they don’t know anything about without the ability to function there? But, also now they have close ties and family connections? So much so, that those people should immigrate, too? They are undermining the Dreamer argument at this point.
There is a surge of asylum seekers. In the fiscal year 2022, we saw more Cuban migration to the United States than at any other time since Castro’s regime came to power, with over 220,000 Cubans. Venezuelan and Nicaraguan people also make up large swaths of migrants at the Mexican border. Those are authoritarian regimes that people are fleeing.
In June of 2021, Vice President Kamala Harris was asked by Univision about the increased numbers of Cubans leaving the island by boat, she said,
“Part of the challenge that our administration has faced is that under the previous administration, there were four years of deterioration of our immigration system. And so, we are in the process of building it back up … We will always be committed to being a safe haven for those who are fleeing harm.”
Currently, Cuba has agreed to accept deported migrants from the US, for the first time since the pandemic. This means our government reached out to their government to negotiate the acceptance of the migrants – hardly “safe haven” talk.
In October, seven people including, a two-year-old child, drowned after the Cuban Cost Guards are alleged to have hit a migrant boat. Cuba has declared the incident an accident and blames the migrant boat for taking a sharp turn. The U.S. Embassy in Havana parroted this message in a tweet written in Spanish:
“The United States sends our condolences to the families of the Cubans who died today in an accident north of Bahía Honda,”
Back in reality, families of the victims are speaking out, saying that what happened in Bahia Honda was extrajudicial murder. ABC reported that Héctor Manuel Meizoso González, the uncle of the two-year-old girl who died in the crash, said that the boat driver did not make any turn, but that it was hit from behind:
Meizoso González was not on the boat, but said he was speaking for the family because his sister who had been on the boat, Diana Meizoso, was too traumatized to talk about her daughter’s death.
“The people (on the boat) were hit hard repeatedly and that’s why so many people died,” he said.
The coast guard denied that it hit the boat multiple times and officials showed photos in which the vessel carrying migrants had a fracture on one side.
Meizoso González said his sister, who had been carrying her daughter, fainted when the collision happened, and that the girl fell from her arms. When she woke up, she began to scream for her daughter, but the toddler was already dead.
Jose Garcia Medina, the father of Andy Garcia (one of the victims), has released a video saying that the families are being threatened with prison time for continuing to speak out.
threatened with prison sentences of 1-5 years if they continue making public declarations of the murder of their loved on in the BahiaHonda Massacre. #CrimesAgainstHumanity #CubaIsADictatorship #SOSCuba
— Jóvenes de la Resistencia (@jar_cuba) December 5, 2022
T @MarioJPenton They lied, manipulated, and threatened the relatives to make them change their testimony, but these mothers could not be broken by the Castro tyranny, even in Cuba. The sinking of a boat in Bahía Honda was a massacre. Hopefully @USEmbCuba will listen to them. https://t.co/FzQkL41yW4
— Center for a Free Cuba (@cubacenter) December 3, 2022
So, what we know is that the U.S. didn’t do what Kamala Harris said they would – to be a safe haven to those fleeing harm. They didn’t flinch much when Cubans were protesting for freedom in the streets and force was used to quell them. Now, the U.S. is complicit in covering up the killing of a toddler, as far as actual Cubans risking their freedom to speak up are concerned. And if they go to prison for it, the U.S. will be mum on that, too.
DACA recipients don’t get deported, they get to bring the family members that they don’t know and they weren’t raised with, right? As for the family members of the killed Cuban migrants? They are offered a cold shoulder from the U.S., and threats by the Cuban regime for… talking. The answer that this legislation gives to those of us awaiting a condemnation of a deceased toddler is simply that the U.S. will now offer the tools to have deported her, but faster.
Meanwhile, we can consider voting rights for migrants who will favor the establishment’s preferences when they go to the polls. Cubans, Venezuelans, Nicaraguans, and others’ voices have been given no representation on this bill, and are offered nothing but an expedited one-way ticket to tyranny. Not because they do not deserve the type of safe haven Harris only provides lip service to, but because it is not politically expedient.
This bill is about who gets dignity and who does not, in a two-tier system by those who care about power more than they do about people.