Saturday, November 17, 2007

If you're black, go back

By Capt Fogg

There's no bronze statue, no stainless steel arch; there's really nothing to show that the stretch of Florida's Atlantic coast from Jupiter up to the St. Lucie inlet is a gateway for the huddled masses arriving regularly from the Bahamas in small boats. Most have set out from Cuba or from Haiti, having paid smugglers to make the 60 mile run from Grand Bahama Island's West End. It's been a smuggler's route since the Civil War, and many a case of rum entered Florida in mahogany speed boats during the prohibition era. Only the cargo has changed.

It's common for smugglers to avoid coming too close to the shore. The tricky sandbars and the surf make it dangerous and so they urge or push the illegal immigrants overboard. Some drown and are washed up on the beaches miles away, some make it ashore in places like Jupiter Island where they are rapidly picked up and there's where the strangeness of our immigration laws begins. Haitians are summarily deported and it's unusual for any of them to convince ICE that they fled Haiti in fear of their lives and qualify for asylum. Cubans get to call their Florida relatives to come and pick them up, while the men they paid to transport them will go to jail if caught. I can't think of any other circumstance under which paying someone to commit a crime is not a crime.

You don't hear much about this from Lou Dobbs and not only is there no discussion of building an Atlantic Wall, small craft come ashore by the thousands with very little oversight from the Coast Guard. No one has ever stopped my boat to see who might be lurking below in the cabin, but I've spent an hour waiting to drive into the US from Mexico, and they don't wave you through when coming from Canada any more.

All in all, the Cubans are more likely to take your job than Haitians or Mexicans or Guatemalans; just as likely to be unsavory characters and not much more likely to be fluent in English. Why the preferential treatment? Why will we fight to keep undocumented Cubans from returning but no one else? Why did we continue this practice while Castro cleared out his jails and sent them all north?

There are a variety of reasons for treating Cuban immigrants differently. None that I've heard have been good reasons, nor has this practice done anything to weaken Fidel Castro's regime or to dispel the perception of the US as a racist, hysterical, xenophobic country obsessed with Communism but completely unconcerned by decency or human values.

(Cross posted from Human Voices.)

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