Legislation to reduce benefits for Cuban immigrants

Republican presidential candidate nominee Marco Rubio and a fellow Cuban-American lawmaker have introduced legislation to reduce the number of special benefits available to Cuban immigrants.

The bill was introduced to the Senate on Tuesday by Rubio, whose Cuban heritage has been an important factor in his bid to become the Republican presidential candidate. The Florida senator was joined by fellow Florida Republican Representative Carlos Curbelo in the House of Representatives.

In December 2014, Cuban President Raul Castro and President Obama announced that more normal relations were being sought by the two countries, with diplomatic ties finally restored in July last year after more than half a century. The change in policy was criticized by both Rubio and Curbelo, who want more human rights for Cuban citizens before the country gains closer ties with the United States.

The presidential campaign has been dominated by the issue of immigration, with Republicans demanding tighter controls when it comes to those who enter the United States. Cuban immigrants have benefited from policies created back in the Cold War to assist those fleeing Communist rule in Cuba, with any Cubans who set foot on American soil automatically allowed to remain in the country and receive benefits.

Rubio’s bill would put an end to benefits for all, with the exception of genuine refugees. “It is particularly outrageous when individuals who claim to be fleeing repression in Cuba are welcomed and allowed to collect federal assistance based on their plight, only to return often to the very place they claimed to be fleeing,” Rubio notes.