The current immigration conversation is a topic I am passionate about. After all, my family came here from Cuba in 1966, when I was a wee tot. Once Castro’s policies started to tighten its grasp around the throat of the Cuban people, a large exodus ensued from the island nation with thousands leaving by boats and landing on Florida’s shores/beaches. This was known as Camarioca Boat Lift of 1965. As a means to manage the large egress, the United States and Cuba came to an accord allowing Cuban exiles to leave the island by plane, this was known as Freedom Flights. Empty planes would depart Miami, twice daily, five days per week, and head to Cuba to pick up usually about 80 some passengers, mostly families with young children.
There were four principal reasons for the U.S. policy regarding Cuban immigrants and their preferential treatment. One of the reasons was simply, Cold War politics. After the Missile Crisis, US. and Cuba relations deteriorated, the U.S. had real concerns due to the close proximity of Cuba to the U.S. (a mere 90 miles from Key West), especially since Castro had espoused his regime to the Soviet Union, and that was a national security concern for the U.S. eastern border. The other reason was that the U.S. wanted to reduce and manage administrative hassles for immigrants flooding to the shores of Florida. With thousands arriving by boat daily, during those days, without technology, processing those non-English speaking arrivals was a monumental endeavor. Then there were humanitarian concerns with reports coming out of executions and imprisonment without due process. Anti-Castro Archivo reported 4,000 executions from 1959-2016; the Black Book of Communism has that number at 15,000-17,000. However, the most important reason was the prospect of gaining professionals, businessmen and skilled trade workers who were perceived to be a positive impact on the U.S. economy. Cuba’s loss was viewed as a gain for the U.S.
Many Cubans who left the island had businesses there. Bacardi, comes to mind, just to mention a (now) well-known U.S. company. Others were professionals, bankers, lawyers, accountants, teachers and doctors. They worked hard to earn their U.S. credentials and became successful, contributing, American citizens. By 1970, over 60% of Cuban refugees were homeowners; an indication that the community tapped into the very definition of the American Dream, language barriers notwithstanding. Also, Cubans tend to send their kids to private schools, usually parochial, and therefore, the community was not much of a burden on the public school system.
Many of those are professionals throughout the U.S. today; one example is Roberto Cantera, CEO the Coca-Cola Company (1980 until his death in 1997). Other 60’s Cubans signed up early on for training programs and developed trades, plumbing, mechanic, electricity, contractors and builders. For instance, my father was a carpenter in Cuba, when he arrived in the U.S., he started working almost immediately joining the carpenter’s union, making a decent wage. After completing assembly line training, my mother worked nights for the Zenith factory assembling television and radios. She was also a gifted seamstress and worked during the day and weekends in clothing factories or at home on side projects to earn a decent living.
Back on the island, the romanticism of the Castro Revolution began to quickly turn to disappointment and fear. Quiet questions began a brewing, why was the Castro regime confiscating firearms? Why was there no freedom of expression, association, movement, assembly, religion or media other than state-sponsored media aka propaganda. We know it as the mainstream media in the U.S. today. Disappearances, arbitrary arrests in the middle of the night, beatings and executions by firing squad were becoming the norm. One neighbor could overhear a conversation and based on his/her interpretation, they would report you and you would be arrested. A message was being sent to the public early on, conform or lose everything, including your life. The regime confiscated properties, farms, and businesses and declared them the property of the “state”.
My aunt, who was a flamenco dancer and singer refused to participate in the government unions for musicians. This was considered dissent and her career ended. No longer could she perform at any venue on the island, she was arrested and sent to prison. My uncle, her younger brother, voiced his opposition to the brutality of the regime early on and was scooped up along with others who had become enraged at the injustices and lies perpetrated by Castro’s regime and were speaking out. He served 10 years in Castro’s prison. He was released in the mid-70s, and left Cuba by way of Venezuela, later settling in the U.S.
Once my family came to terms with the reality that Castro’s revolution was antithetical to the hope and change promised; my father applied to leave the island with the family in tote. Sadly, some of our relatives remained as their sons were of military age (16) and would have to complete at least a 2-year service. Those relatives still live in Cuba today. Fortunately, my brother was just shy of the military age and we left as a family. Some were not as fortunate.
It was a difficult situation, my mother left her entire family behind. Her nephews were of military age and would not be allowed to leave Cuba, therefore her brothers and sister would not leave their young sons behind. My father-in-law who had the same first and last name as a man the government was looking for was separated from his family as they waited at the airport to board their Freedom Flight in 1966. His pregnant wife and two young sons were forced to board their flight and leave Cuba. They were told that he would follow after the identity issues were cleared up. It took over 2 years before he was granted permission to leave the island. Castro’s goon reveled in separating families and terrorizing its citizens.
Once we arrived in the U.S., we were processed via the Freedom Tower in Miami, Florida. Today that is a monument to the Cuban’s flight to freedom. There were medical exams, vaccinations, lots of paperwork and forms to fill out. Once processed, families were usually relocated to northern states. We were sent to Chicago; others went to New York and New Jersey among other northern states.
Adjusting to Chicago’s windy city was not easy, especially for a bunch of Caribbeans. The first winter was brutal for the adults but a blast for us kids. Cars literally buried under snow and no school. Temps were below zero and skin chafing winds off of Lake Michigan kept our cheeks rosy. We adapted, assimilated and became part of the community. Within a few years and by working long days and nights, my parents were able to purchase a two-story duplex in Chicago. We never asked for handouts or government assistance; we came here to work and be a part of the American experience. That is immigration, not this new anti-American, anti-Constitution, anti-Rule of Law, give-me give-me, “you’re racist” gems that are here today.
Times were different then, immigrants came here for want of the American Dream. They came here to work hard and raise their families in freedom. There were no handouts, section 8 housing, TANF, CHIP, SNAP, WIC, or any of those democrat jewels. If you wanted a piece of the American Dream, you worked for it. My how we need that mentality again today. The Catholic Church and other charities, not the government, were the source of early assistance and it was short lived. Assimilation was the best means of attaining the American Dream and becoming a U.S. citizenship was an honor earned and not an entitlement demanded via amnesty.
Within 8 years of arriving, my family became U.S. citizens through naturalization. We were so proud. I still remember raising my right hand and taking the oath, and pledging allegiance to the flag, of the United States of America and to the Republic for which it stands, one Nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all. I was nine years old. To this day, I get chills when I hear the National Anthem and I am ever grateful that my parents had the foresight to leave their native land behind and bring me to America.
Unfortunately, this is not the case with most of these so-called Dreamers. These folks do not believe in, or respect the rule of law of the United States, neither do their illegal parents. Many do not assimilate and a whopping 74.8% are on some form of government assistance. The majority of the illegals crossing the border do so with three things in mind. Welfare, Subsidized Housing and Healthcare. This is an undisputed fact.
Sure there are those who come to work, sending billions of U.S. Dollars back to their native countries, which does not help our economy in anyway. Many take advantage of the childcare credit and receive tax refunds, even though having paid little to no taxes. Its an outrage. They cross the border illegally, and then abscond throughout the country stealing identities, buying social security cards, driver’s licenses and applying for and receiving government assistance. They barely speak or read English yet they drive on our roads and highways. They burden the public school systems in every state they migrate to, all illegally, especially in California.
We are importing poverty and illiteracy. 40% of the illegals have less than a high school education. Of those graduating (so-called dreamers) 5-10% pursue higher education and fewer still successfully graduate. These people either bring their children here illegally or give birth here in order to anchor themselves to the U.S. and the welfare system they would otherwise not qualify for. They have their kids here and their kids are under the mistaken idea that because they are born in the U.S., they are automatically considered American citizens. That is just not so.
The intent of the 14th Amendment is clear: “Every person born within the limits of the United States, and subject to their jurisdiction, is by virtue of natural law and national law a citizen of the United States. This will not, of course, include persons born in the United States who are foreigners, aliens, who belong to the families of ambassadors or foreign ministers accredited to the Government of the United States, but will include every other class of persons. This settles the great question of citizenship and removes all doubt as to what persons are or are not citizens of the United States.” The interpretation of this Amendment has been a great source of misinterpretation in DC and among the population.
The idea that people crossing the U.S. border illegally and then having children results in those kids being U.S. citizens, is absurd and a garden that only grows in the warped mind of Democrats and RINOs. As an American, if you go to any country and have your child there, see if your child is granted citizenship? Of course not. A child is the nationality of its parents. Why we have allowed Democrats, progressive, globalist and shamefully some Republicans to take over this conversation and skew the Constitution for their own agenda and political gain is something I will never understand and will speak out against at every opportunity.
How can an illegal bestow citizenship to their kids just because those kids are born in the U.S., or came here illegally as children? This is a gross misinterpretation of the 14th Amendment of the Constitution. This question no doubt has to go to the Supreme Court of the United States; and clarification and legal interpretation of the 14th Amendment must be settled once and for all. It may also take a Convention of States in order to finally settle this issue surrounding the 14th Amendment to our Constitution.
My family and millions of other immigrants came here legally, and have obeyed the laws of this nation since they set foot on U.S. soil. My family has never asked for, nor received, any form of welfare, food stamps, healthcare or subsidized housing. My family never felt entitled to anything this country had to offer and worked to earn everything they ever had or have. We love this country, we pledge allegiance to the flag and demand nothing of anyone but ourselves. That is the real story of the American Dream.
Those people we see on television, DACAs, dreamers, illegals, storming congressional and senatorial offices demanding amnesty and calling Americans racists if we disagree, those are the very people that have no place in our Nation. Why those staffers just sat there and did not call ICE to come and take those illegals out is the very reason they get away with these shenanigans. Americans must stand firm in our support of the rule of law. We must stop the bastardization of the 14th Amendment that Democrats and Progressives are using to do us under.
If we don’t…if we don’t, then we deserve whatever foreign embodiment and transformation of our beloved country we end up with.