MIAMI – U.S. Rep. Carlos Curbelo introduced new legislation Wednesday that would change how Cuban immigrants are dealt with in the federal Refugee Resettlement Program.
"A provision in the Refugee Education Assistance Act of 1980 treats ALL Cuban immigrants, regardless of their reasons for leaving the island, as refugees and asylees by granting them access to the federal Refugee Resettlement Program," Curbelo said in a statement. "Unfortunately, recent reports indicate that this program has been grossly abused, allowing non-refugees to participate in the program and collecting benefits while living in Cuba."
Curbelo said the Cuba Immigrant Work Opportunity Act would ensure that only refugees and asylees can take advantage of the program. He said it would also hold the administration accountable to enforce its own regulations to make sure that people abroad are not collecting benefits.
"Our Cuba immigration policy is flawed, and the Administration has made matters worse by recognizing the Cuban dictatorship as a legitimate government," Curbelo said. "Tens of thousands of Cubans have responded by risking their lives to flee the island. This proposal aims to reduce the abuse of America's generosity and affords Cubans the opportunity to work and contribute to our country."
U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen supported the new bill, but had her own take on issues with Cuban immigration.
"I congratulate my colleague, Carlos, on introducing his bill. It is a positive step forward in curbing the abuse of our taxpayer-funded government programs," Ros-Lehtinen said. "However, the root cause of this abuse is the Castro regime which has fabricated this crisis and the misguided policy by the White House that has caused uncertainty and panic by the people of Cuba who are fleeing oppression."