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Rubio: Resistance To Stopping Cuban Refugee Welfare Abuse Exactly Why People Hate Washington

Apr 14, 2016 | Comunicados de Prensa

“It’s not controversial, this is bipartisan. The chairman of the Democratic National Committee, Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, is a cosponsor of this bill in the House. But this is not partisan. … This is about what’s doing right. … If I came to you and said, ‘they are stealing $700 million a year from you and here’s a very simple way to stop it,’ you would say, ‘let’s do it. We’ve got to do it.’ They’re saying we can’t do it, and no one will tell you why we can’t do it except some procedural internal Senate thing. This is ridiculous. This is why people are angry.  This is why people are so upset. This is why people have taken on this attitude of ‘get rid of everyone.’ And I gotta tell you, it’s hard to blame them after you see what’s happening here now. This is a total, complete outrage.”

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) delivered remarks today regarding the Senate’s refusal to allow a vote on his amendment to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) targeting abuse of Cuban refugee welfare benefits.

A video of the speech is available here, and a broadcast quality video can be accessed here.

EL SENADOR MARCO RUBIO
April 14, 2016
SENADO DE EE.UU.
https://youtu.be/b720jC8iWHg

Senator Marco Rubio: “I talked about this yesterday, but let me back up and explain to people what we’re facing.

“Today, if an immigrant enters the United States from another country, legally comes here on a green card, five-year residency, they cannot receive federal benefits. If you immigrate to the United States from any country in the world with an immigrant visa, legally, not illegal immigration — illegal immigrants do not qualify for federal benefits — a legal immigrant to the United States does not qualify for any federal benefits.

“There is an exception in the law, however, and that is, if you happen to be someone that comes from Cuba without a visa. There is a law called the Cuban Adjustment Act, and when the Cuban Adjustment Act was passed during the Cold War, it was passed so that when Cubans came to the United States fleeing communist oppression, they were immediately admitted into the United States. In essence, that is why there is really no such thing as an illegal immigrant from Cuba.

“If a Cuban makes it to the shores of the United States, legally in this country in a year and a day after they have arrived, they are allowed to apply for a green card. But unlike any immigrant from any part of the world, they are allowed to receive federal benefits because they are automatically presumed to be refugees.

“That is a status, by the way, that I’m not trying to change in terms of the Cuban Adjustment Act. I’ve said I’m open to that being examined, but I’m not trying to change that law in my amendment.

“What I do want to discuss, is why should you automatically assume at this point that anyone that comes from Cuba is a political refugee? The reason why that now is in doubt, is because many of the people that are coming from Cuba, supposedly as refugees seeking to flee oppression, are traveling back to Cuba 15, 20, 30 times a year.

“Are there political people being politically oppressed in Cuba? Absolutely. It is one of the reasons why I think the president’s policies towards Cuba have been misguided.  They refuse to see that even after this opening to Cuba, the political situation on the island has deteriorated. It’s gotten worse, not better.

“There are absolutely people from Cuba that are coming here as refugees, but we also cannot ignore the fact that many of the people coming from Cuba no longer are coming here for political reasons, and the evidence is that shortly after they arrive, they’re going back to Cuba 15, 20, 30 times a year. You don’t normally travel back to a place that you are fleeing from oppression, much less repeatedly over an extended period of time.

“As a result, we now have a law that basically says if you come from Cuba, you are automatically entitled to a full platform of federal benefits.

Note: After reading extensively‎ portions of a South Florida Sun-Sentinel investigative report on the abuse of Cuban refugee welfare benefits, Rubio continued:

Senator Marco Rubio: “Cubans are allowed into the U.S., even if they arrive without permission, and they’re quickly granted permanent residency, as I said earlier, under the 1966 Cuban Adjustment Act. They are automatically assumed to be refugees without having to prove it. They are immediately eligible for welfare, for food stamps, for Medicaid, and for supplemental social security or SSI, and also cash assistance for impoverished seniors and for disabled young people.

“Let’s be frank, not all Cubans receive government aid. For example, if you come to the United States from Cuba on a visa — because there is a visa lottery and every year the government awards visas to people living in Cuba- If you come to the United States on a visa, you do not qualify for these benefits.

“If however, you arrive in the United States on a raft, or if you fly on an airplane to Costa Rica, Honduras, Guatemala, or Mexico and cross the U.S. border, as is now increasingly happening, then you do qualify for these benefits I have just outlined.

“So let’s be frank, not everyone who is coming from Cuba is doing this and there people coming from Cuba who are fleeing persecution, but many are taking advantage of the easy money and then they’re going back and forth from Cuba.

Note: After reading extensively‎ portions of a South Florida Sun-Sentinel investigative report on the abuse of Cuban refugee welfare benefits, Rubio continued:

Senator Marco Rubio: “This is an outrage. Listen, my parents came from Cuba, I live in a community where Cuban exiles are a plurality of the people who live there, so no one can say this is an anti-immigrant thing or a mean-spirited thing. We have the support for this idea of every elected Cuban-American member of the House, I, myself, come from a Cuban-American family. This is an outrage. It’s happening right underneath our nose.

“Who can be for this? Let me rephrase it, who can be against doing something about this? We are talking close to $700 million a year of American taxpayer money that could be spent right now to deal with the Zika virus issue that we’re facing, for example, and instead this money is being abused, it’s being stolen.

“So you would think, wow, that’s a commonsense thing, right? People here in the gallery, people at home if anyone’s actually watching c-span, you watch this, you say that’s commonsense, right? That’s commonsense. They’re going to do something about it.

“I can’t get a vote on an amendment. I cannot get the Senate to vote on an amendment to stop this practice.

“Here’s the only thing I’m asking. I am asking that if you come from Cuba, you have to prove that you are a refugee. Prove to us. I’m not even saying we’re not going to let you in, I’m just saying that if you come from Cuba using the Cuban Adjustment Act, prove that you’ve been persecuted in Cuba.

“That’s not hard to do. You were in jail, you were beaten. We know who the people are that are being persecuted, all we’re saying is prove that you are a refugee and then you’ll qualify for the benefits because we help refugees.

“Apparently that’s too much to ask. Now, here’s the thing, everybody here comes up to me and says, ‘I’m for your amendment, I support what you’re trying to do.’ Well, great, why can’t we vote on it? ‘Well, we can’t vote on it because if we give you your amendment, then we have to give the other side their amendment.’

“Let me just tell you, guys this is why people are so sick of politics. I don’t want to get too much into the weeds on this, suffice it to say I’ve spent from April 13 of 2015 through very recently traveling all over this country on another endeavor and one of the things you hear from people — they’re just angry, they’re just fed up. They think no matter who we elect, who we vote for, who we send to Washington, nothing changes, nothing ever happens.

“Doesn’t matter, you can vote for a Democrat, you can vote for a Republican, you can vote for a vegetarian. It doesn’t matter who you vote for, nothing happens, these people don’t do anything.

“They’re right. I’ve just come here today and laid this out. No one can argue this, no one can argue against what I just said. No one. I challenge any member of this Senate to come here now, I’ll give you the rest of the time I have apportioned to me and tell me why changing this is a bad idea. But I can’t even get a vote on an amendment to change this.

“And the excuses are long. Oh, we can’t do it because we don’t want to open the tax portion of the bill up. Because then other people will want their amendments. This is crazy. This is nuts. We can’t solve problems. We can’t solve something as clear and simple as this. We can’t even get a vote on it. A vote. You want to vote against what I’m proposing? Vote against it. We can’t even get a vote on an amendment like this. It makes no sense.

“And this is just — I mean, it’s not a small issue. We’re talking $700 million. But this is not an issue of national coverage, it’s not in the news every day, it’s not controversial, this is bipartisan.“The chairman of the Democratic National Committee, Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, is a cosponsor of this bill in the House. But this is not partisan. It’s not about getting anyone elected to anything. I’m not running for anything.

“This is about what’s doing right. This is about being able to go back to my home community and say to people, this abuse has been addressed. but if I go home tonight or tomorrow to Florida, when I go home, and I run into somebody at a grocery store, I can’t explain to them with a straight face why the Senate won’t give me a vote on it because it makes no sense.

“If I came to you and said, ‘they are stealing $700 million a year from you and here’s a very simple way to stop it,’ you would say, ‘let’s do it. We’ve got to do it.’ They’re saying we can’t do it, and no one will tell you why we can’t do it except some procedural internal Senate thing. This is ridiculous. This is why people are angry.

“This is why people are so upset. This is why people have taken on this attitude of ‘get rid of everyone.’ And I gotta tell you, it’s hard to blame them after you see what’s happening here now. This is a total, complete outrage.

“There’s another amendment, by the way, being debated, by Senator Sessions. It’s another one of the amendments that was denied a vote. It has to do with the entry-exit tracking system. Which basically means that when you come into the United States with a visa, you get a visa to visit the United States for 90 days as a tourist.

“You want to go to Washington, you want to go to Disney World, you want to go to New York City. And you have 60-90 days to visit the United States. When you arrive, we check you in, but we never check you out. And so we never know when someone left. And as a result today, of the 12 or 13 or 14 million people that are here illegally, about 40 or some percent of them are people that overstayed visas.

“They didn’t cross the border illegally, they came on an airplane, and they overstayed their visa. Everyone says they are in favor of a system that tracks entries and exits so we can crack down on these overstay of visas. Everyone says they are in favor of it.

“In 2013, the Senate passed a controversial immigration reform bill that I was a part of and we helped craft and an entry-exit tracking system was part of that bill. Everyone, Democrat, Republican, liberal, conservative, everyone says they’re in favor of doing that. But you can’t get a vote on it; again, it makes no sense.

“This place can’t solve anything and this is ridiculous. And so what happens when you don’t solve things for a long time, the problems stack up. And people lose confidence, people lose faith. Now look, I understand this process, I know that everyone’s not always going to get everything; you’re going achieve what you want when you get involved in these issues. But these are commonsense issues. An entry-exit tracking system, of course that makes sense.

“By the way, you have to do that on the F.A.A. bill. You have to, because that has to do with airports where most of the entry-exits are happening.

“This issue is drafted to this bill because this bill has a piece of it that deals with the tax code and the finance. A moment ago the chairman said we had a lot of debate- he did. They had an open amendment process on the F.A.A. bill.  But there’s a finance component to this bill that was not offered till it got here. And that’s what my amendment is drafted so I couldn’t have offered this in a committee.

“But I just think, you know, people come to Washington. They watch this process. They hear me explain this thing.  They’re wondering, well there has to be a catch, right?

“What is the other side of the argument? There is no other side to the argument. There is none. There is none.

“Why should — why should you, the people watching, the people here, why should anybody, why should the American taxpayer be giving money to people to build houses in another country that don’t live here?

“And that’s what’s happening right underneath our nose.

“Forget about passing it, you can’t even get a vote on it, for reasons no one can explain.

“And so you want to know why people are upset and frustrated at the political process?

“This is just a small and important example of why people are so frustrated.

“I hope this will change. I mean, I hope it will change on this bill because I don’t think you can explain with a straight face why something like this can’t pass or why something like this can’t even get a vote on it.

“This makes absolutely no sense, but this is what’s happening here every single day on a routine basis and — I mean here, I mean here in Washington. The result is people start to scratch their heads and say ‘it doesn’t matter who we elect. Nothing changes.’ And that explains a lot about the frustrations that are going on in this country. So I hope that will change.”