Thousands of Cubans rushing the U.S. border in record numbers are being greeted with a Welcome Wagon operation the provides them with taxpayer-funded benefits including cash, a Social Security card, food stamps, and Medicaid, according to a review of the latest immigration crisis on the border.
During a field trip to the Laredo, Texas crossing point, two experts from the Center for Immigration Studies documented how Cubans are provided with the services free of charge in a storefront operation set up by a Cuban immigrant, who even provides housing and schedules transportation to Miami.
"The door is wide open. Come and get your free stuff," is how Jessica M. Vaughan, director of policy studies for the Center for Immigration Studies, sized it up.
She traveled to the border with Kausha Luna, who has been charting the wave of Cubans over the border. Numbers have risen sharply because they fear that as relations normalize between Havana and Washington, the U.S. policy will shift from President Obama's open door policy of granting asylum to those from the Communist island to a more typical and drawn-out legal immigration process.
In her new blog post, Luna said that there are about 30,000 more Cubans poised to cross the border soon from Latin America.
She highlighted the help Cubans received immediately after crossing the border in Laredo. "As the islanders leave the port of entry at Bridge 1 they are greeted by a banner immediately across the street, which reads 'Welcome Cubans To The Land of Liberty and Opportunity.' The welcoming banner hangs from the offices of the non-profit organization Cubanos en Libertad (Cubans in Liberty)," she wrote.
The office is manned by a Cuban immigrant, Alejandro Ruiz, who shows the border-crossers what America has to offer. They said that he is likely subsidized by taxpayers through a refugee resettlement provider.
"Ruiz explained that he takes Cuban migrants to the Health and Human Services offices to get access to TANF (cash welfare), SNAP (food stamps), and Medicaid. During our visit he also showed us two envelopes with Social Security cards ready to be picked up by newly arrived islanders. Additionally, Ruiz gave us a checklist that he gives the migrants, which notes all the documents they need to have in order to acquire a work permit. While the Cubans wait for all their benefits to be in order, Ruiz provides them a place to stay," wrote Luna.
He also steers them to another Cuban-run office that provides $300 bus tickets to Miami, home to the nation's biggest Cuban population. A typical Greyhound ticket costs $167, indicating a profit of over $130 each.
Separately, Vaughan told Secrets that "it's organized lawlessness." The concern of losing immediate legalization in the U.S., is prompting even Cubans living in Europe to enter as asylees.
"It's all perfectly legal," she said. "All they have to prove is that they're Cuban and don't have a serious criminal record or prior deportation. The door is wide open, come & get your free stuff," she added.
Paul Bedard, the Washington Examiner's "Washington Secrets" columnist, can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org