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Cubans alarmed over new U.S. deportation bill

Cubans with deportation orders say they have grown alarmed about a new bill recently introduced in the U.S. Congress that immigrant rights activists say could enable immigration authorities to re-detain indefinitely Cubans with criminal records who cannot be returned home.

Though there is no immediate prospect for the bill becoming law, some immigrant rights advocates say they are closely monitoring it because it was filed by Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX), chairman of the powerful House Judiciary Committee and architect of 1996 laws that toughened immigration enforcement.

Immigration advocates say the Smith bill would essentially restore the ability of immigration authorities to hold indefinitely convicted foreign nationals until they can be deported.

The immigration service lost that power in 2001, and again in 2005, when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that foreign nationals who, cannot be deported, should not be held in detention longer than six months.

While the Smith bill does not mention Cubans, activists say Cuban immigrants are likely would be among the most affected, if the law passes, because they make up one of the largest contingents of foreign nationals who cannot be deported.

But a staffer in the House Judiciary Committee that Smith heads said the bill does not target all “non-deportable” Cubans.

Rather, he said the bill targets “dangerous non-deportable criminal immigrants,” whether they are Cuban or from any other country.

The staffer said “prolonged” detention would be reserved for “murderers, rapists and child molesters,” though the bill itself does not list those specific crimes.

The bill refers to “aggravated felonies”, which, under immigration law, include other crimes, such as drug offenses.

The staffer also said that the bill would not be “retroactive,” though immigrant rights activists said language in the bill would allow immigration authorities to detain foreign nationals even if their deportation orders were issued before the bill is enacted into law.

“This bill is so sweeping that it would result in thousands of harmless immigrants being jailed for years, among them, asylum seekers and torture survivors,” said Susana Barciela, policy director for Miami-based Florida Immigrant Advocacy Center.

Ira Kurzban, a Miami immigration lawyer, considered a national authority on immigration law, said the Smith bill was an “attempt to reverse” prior Supreme Court rulings.

Cuban Julio Muñoz, who arrived in Miami, during the Mariel boatlift in 1980, said he spent more time in immigration detention than in prison over drug convictions.

He said he finally was freed when the U.S. Supreme Court in 2005 ruled that Mariel convicts could not be held in detention indefinitely just because they cannot be deported to Cuba.

“If they detain me again until I can be deported, I’d rather kill myself,” Muñoz told reporters.

Raúl Rodríguez, 53, another Mariel refugee with a final order of deportation freed from indefinite detention, expressed similar sentiments.

“I would hang myself if it came to that,” he said. “It’s like if you put a little bird in a cage, it dies of sadness.”

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mongo the Bongo from fort Lauderdale Florida says:
I do not understand The US Back in 1980 Where this country Took 125,000 people from Cuba Into a city named Miami The place be came the waterfront slum How can you put 125,000 people over night into a city How about the people who owns a property down there It all went to hell at 1 time Miami was a beautiful beautiful place certain parts of Miami are starting to clean the place
up and eve rybody demands that the government should take care of them demand something from Castro see what he tell you some parts of Miami it might as well be cuba
Oct. 2, 2012, 1:29 pm
hose b from Miami says:
A lot of said stories. and for most part that's all they are are good stories. I don't know why the US gave permanent residency they should have made it you need to check in every 10 years commit a crime goodbye don't pay child support goodbye don't pay income tax goodbye I would like to have 1 dollar for anybody driving without license insurance and a registered vehicle in Miami they're all old people that never worked 1 day in their wife and trying to collect Social Security

Medicaid and medicare from the US government Where are good Cubans in bed Cubans 1 thing they keep forgetting it is a privilege to be in this country It is not there right to be here Pioneer stories on On illegal immigrants finish in college Stand are upset because they can't get a law license in this country It is like robbing a bank If you get away with it you're in the clear if you get caught to bed

and Medicaid and Medicare from the US government most of the Cuban people are good people
Oct. 2, 2012, 1:48 pm
Melissa from Miami says:
At the end of the day, we are all immigrants to this country. Whether our ancestors immigrated to this country while fleeing from Hitler's Germany or fleeing from a country that was taken over by communism, we all Immigrated to the US. That is of course unless you are an American Indian. They are the only 'true Americans'. Miami was not ruined by the Cubans, they helped make it the great vacation destination that it is. Some Cubans lived in Miami way before the Castro regime. Learn your history!
Feb. 6, 2013, 11:53 pm
sammy from washington DC says:
It's a shame how this country treats cubans .they commit a crime and right away all privileges arr taken but a child molester roams the streets like nothing .yeah great country
Sept. 10, 2013, 8:45 am
Lázaro from Atlanta says:
Do you think God will not take us in haven for who we are?if thats the case I Will bet haven is empty and going out of buss. Oh no i forgot !God Does have mercy on us , are you forgeting to?
Sept. 15, 2013, 10:08 am
Lázaro from Atlanta says:
Do you think God will not take us in haven for who we are?if thats the case I Will bet haven is empty and going out of buss. Oh no i forgot !God Does have mercy on us , are you forgeting to?
Sept. 15, 2013, 10:08 am
linda from nj says:
Joaquin abradelo made and sold rape drugs went to prison.. got out and pretended to practicallyhave dbeen a veterinarian in cuba. nevermind hes got a record showing je was in prison. and not old enpugh to have been educated in cuba. so he overdosed a dog on insulin at river pet resort in edgewater nj according to 3 workers there. even though he was abusing animals in bloomfield shelter karen zelinski and jackie bellizzi hired him anyway. So i guess they have a weakness for cuban men. Ex strippers arent a great judge of character.

So glad the usa is dumb
Nov. 22, 2013, 4:20 pm

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