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ICYMI: Rubio: Automatic Refugee Status For Cuban Immigrants No Longer Justified
Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) today highlighted the abuse of Cuban refugee welfare benefits and the need for policy reform in a radio interview with Drew Steele, host of Daybreak on 92.5 Fox News.
“[W]e’re now seeing growing evidence that a number of people that are coming from Cuba, supposedly fleeing oppression, are returning to Cuba thirty, forty, fifty times a year. Some are living in Cuba for months at a time on our taxpayer money,” said Rubio. “So I just think it’s wrong and what I would do is get rid of that presumption and say look, a Cuban, just like everybody else, if they can prove that they’re refugees, they will be treated as refugees. Otherwise, they won’t be automatically presumed to be a refugee for purposes of benefits.”
Earlier this year, Rubio introduced “The Cuban Immigrant Work Opportunity Act of 2016“ in the Senate, companion legislation to H.R. 4247, sponsored by Congressman Carlos Curbelo (R-FL-26), that would terminate the automatic eligibility for federal public assistance for Cuban nationals under the Refugee Resettlement Program, while maintaining it for those that have been persecuted that are in need of resettlement assistance.
Audio of the full radio interview is available here.
U.S. Senator Marco Rubio
April 21, 2016
Daybreak with Drew Steele
Senator Marco Rubio: “Well, what’s happening now is if you come from any country in the world, if you emigrate to the United States legally, you do not qualify for any federal benefits for the first five years that you’re in this country.
“The only exception to that are Cubans, who arrive and are automatically deemed to be refugees by law, and whether you’re legitimately fleeing oppression or whether you’re coming because you’re looking for a better economic life, once you arrive in the United States from Cuba, you are automatically presumed to be a refugee. And that means you qualify for an assortment of federal benefits that, in some cases, could equal one to two thousand dollars a month.
“So number one, I’m arguing that at this point, given all the changes in U.S.-Cuba relations, that’s no longer justified. In essence, I can’t justify any longer Cubans receiving automatic refugee benefits while someone from another country does not.
“The bigger problem is we’re now seeing growing evidence that a number of people that are coming from Cuba, supposedly fleeing oppression, are returning to Cuba thirty, forty, fifty times a year. Some are living in Cuba for months at a time on our taxpayer money.
“That money is deposited in a bank account in the United States by the federal government and then they have a relative in the U.S. wire that money to them, and then they’re spending those dollars in Cuba. And let me tell you, three hundred dollars a month in Cuba, four hundred dollars a month in Cuba, is a lot of money. And that’s taxpayer money that’s going there, not to mention food stamps and so forth. So I just think it’s wrong and what I would do is get rid of that presumption and say look, a Cuban, just like everybody else, if they can prove that they’re refugees, they will be treated as refugees. Otherwise, they won’t be automatically presumed to be a refugee for purposes of benefits.
“And we’re talking about seven to eight hundred million dollars a year of money, a lot of which is being fraudulently spent in Cuba itself, not in the United States.”