CAPS — A recent New York Times story about Central American illegal aliens and Cuban refugees lining up at the Mexican border took me back to my classroom days as an English as a Second Language instructor. According to the Times, the Central American aliens are bent out of shape because of the 1995 amendment to the congressionally approved 1966 Cuban Adjustment Act.
Also known as “wet foot, dry foot,” the bill’s revision puts Cubans who reach the United States on an immediate track to welfare benefits, work permits and an eventual green card. Those entitlements are not automatically conferred on Central Americans who can instead be questioned, detained and possibly, but not probably, deported.
My years as an ESL teacher included 2000 when six-year-old Cuban Elián González and his family dominated the news cycle. At issue was whether González, whose mother died at sea trying to get them to the U.S., should be granted asylum or returned to his father in Cuba.