Shortcuts not the answer for immigration
It has been said and written that horror stories about the 1980 Mariel Boatlift were exaggerated. Of the about 125,000 Cubans who left their island and came here then, only a small percentage were criminals set free from jails and patients released from mental hospitals by then-Cuban dictator Fidel Castro.
But some of the refugees indeed were vicious criminals. The exact number may never be known — but it is a fact that Castro, out of anger at the United States, ensured a substantial number of criminal predators reached our shores.
Fast forward to 2019: In part because of U.S. sanctions, Cuba’s economy is suffering. Many residents of that country want out. The regime in Havana is angry with Washington.
It is being reported that thousands of Cubans have left their homeland and gone to Mexico — in the hope of getting into the United States. In one city alone, Ciudad Juarez, most of a group of 4,500 would-be immigrants are Cubans.
And U.S. immigration officials report that during the seven-month period ending in April, 4,737 Cubans without legal status entered this country in the El Paso, Texas, area. The number of such entries during the entire 12 months preceding that flood was just 394.
No doubt many, probably most, of the Cubans trying to get into the United States are honest men, women and children who just want better lives here.
But what if Cuba’s leaders know their history and are in a mood to emulate the dead Castro’s Mariel Boatlift stunt? Worse, what if some of those trying to get into this country are Cuban government operatives planning terrorist attacks?
The crush of people from Central America trying to enter the United States during the past several months threatens to overwhelm our immigration mechanism. Ensuring that only legal immigrants, including those with legitimate asylum requests, get it has become exceedingly difficult.
The Cubans know that.
Clearly, immigration officials must not take shortcuts in checking the stories of those arriving at the border from Cuba. This is not stereotyping and it is not discrimination. It is merely recognizing the real potential that part of the exodus is being orchestrated in Havana.