Jan 11, 2006

Feet Wet, or Gov. Arnold and stopping Immigration

I grew up in South Florida, a well known haven for Cuban immigrants who flee Castro's reign. Perhaps because I read human interest stories about the trek between Cuba and Florida's coast so often in my youth, I can't remember a time when I wasn't fascinated both by the decision to leave everything one knows to hop in a semi-seaworthy vessel for a new life and by Cuba itself.

Hanging out in the Cuban homes of my friends as a little girl and even as an adult has made up some of my most favorite memories. There's something about the common spirit I've witnessed that I'm drawn to. Riding through the canals in a predominantly Cuban neighborhood in the Keys around sunset I've seen huge groups of people dancing and laughing to fantastically happy music on their back porches and I've felt jealous.

Recently back on the shrink's couch I've been told I'm an internalizer, which holds true because I actually like to think of myself as part Cuban, like there was a mixup at the hospital and it's weird that I'm all freckly and white. Or like I'm the Immaculate Cuban and you just have to believe.

That said, I feel awfully bad for my brethren who made it all the way to the pilings of the 7 mile bridge and were turned back last week. You see, the bridge was blown up for the filming of True Lies so the portion these poor folks landed on didn't happen to be attached to land, and the Coast Guard sent them 90 miles south. Damn Arnold even makes immigration policy with his decade old films!

Under the U.S. government's "wet-foot, dry-foot" policy, Cubans who reach dry land in the United States are usually allowed to remain in this country, while those caught at sea are sent back.. The Cubans thought they were safe Wednesday when they reached the Old Seven Mile Bridge. But the historic bridge, which runs side by side with a newer bridge, is missing several chunks, and the Cubans had the misfortune of reaching pilings from a section that no longer touches land.

Veteran immigration attorney Ira Kurzban, who was not involved in the case, called the Coast Guard decision ridiculous."The wet-foot, dry-foot policy has no foundation in law," he said. Kurzban said the policy is inconsistent with U.S. and international law, noting that the federal government's jurisdiction extends beyond dry land to waters as far out as 100 miles.

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