WASHINGTON, USA -- The announced release of 3,500 prisoners in advance of Pope Francis's visit is a hopeful sign of positive change in Cuba. Coupled with the recent re-establishment of diplomatic relations with the United States, the announcement indicates substantive political change in Cuba that should result in the repeal of the Cuban Adjustment Act, says the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR).
The Cold War-era Cuban Adjustment Act provides immigration benefits to Cuban migrants not offered to citizens of any other country. Cuban nationals who set foot in the United States are allowed to remain and can adjust to permanent resident status after one year.
"We are entering a new era in US-Cuban relations, and policies that were implemented a half century ago need to be rethought in light of changing circumstances," said Dan Stein, president of FAIR. "Political conditions in that country do not set it apart from countless other nations in a way that justifies this special set of immigration rules for Cuban citizens."
Cuba remains far from an enlightened democracy, but recent events provide the first real hope for true reform since Castro seized power in 1959.
"If there is to be real political change in Cuba once the Castro brothers inevitably leave the stage, it must come from within. Another mass exodus from Cuba, facilitated by policies that guarantee Cuban migrants the right to remain in the US, would undermine the goal of democratization," argued Stein.
"It is time for Congress to repeal the Cuban Adjustment Act and treat Cubans attempting to enter the US the same way we treat citizens of other countries. From humanitarian and foreign policy perspective, our goal should be to encourage and promote true political reform in Cuba, including the release of political prisoners. Maintaining a failed Cold War policy that encourages people to leave Cuba neither benefits the United States, nor the prospects for real reform in that country," concluded Stein.