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U.S. Senator Rubio Wants to End Some Benefits for Cuban Immigrants | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Former Republican presidential candidate Senator Marco Rubio passes by reporter’s after voting on Capitol Hill in Washington March 17, 2016. REUTERS/Gary Cameron

WASHINGTON- Senator Marco Rubio called on Wednesday for a change in U.S. policy toward Cuban immigrants, pursuing end benefits providing to those refugees who are coming from the island only for economic reasons. In a senate speech, the Florida Republican said “In essence, our existing law treats all Cubans categorically as if they were refugees whether or not they can prove it”.

Nevertheless, at the moment all Cubans are eligible for welfare payments and other public assistance during their first five years in the United States, noting that they are the only immigrant group to receive such and similar benefits.

Worth noting that Rubio is not unfamiliar with immigrants, where he had lived the experience, noting that he had moved to Florida from Cuba in the 1950s, before the island’s Communist revolution that led to a decades-long U.S. trade embargo. Cuba has come up during the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

Rubio, a former candidate, staunchly opposes Democratic President Barack Obama’s recent moves toward more normal relations with Havana, as does Republican Senator Ted Cruz, also a Cuban-American, who remains in the presidential race.

From the other side, some lawmakers have been demanding a new look at Cuban immigration policy since the unexpected December 2014 announcement from Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro that the two countries would move toward ending decades of estrangement.

It was stated by Rubio that the United States spent $680 million in 2014 supporting Cuban migrants, a total that has since grown. But then again, some Cubans who say they are fleeing persecution in their homeland repeatedly return to the island, according to Rubio.

In essence, Rubio later added that it is difficult to justify someone’s refugee status when after arriving in the United States, they are traveling back to the place they are quote/unquote fleeing from 10, 15, 20, 30 times a year.