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tv   Inside Story  Al Jazeera  November 20, 2015 6:30pm-7:01pm EST

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sense out of it. and most importantly, to bring dignity back to yourself. >> thank you so much. >> thank you. >> so nice talking to you. >> nice talking to you. ♪ ♪ >> remember when presidents barack obama of the u.s. and raul castro of cuba issued in a new era of relationships between the two cold war foes? a lot of people talked about the possibilities opened up by the establishment of diplomatic relations, the end of cuba's isolation. but a lot of rank and file citizens are not so excited. make their way to the u.s. to claim refugee status still
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running away, it's the "inside story." >> welcome to "inside story." i'm ray suarez. it was just a few months ago that the old cuban embassy reopened and the cuban flag flew once again. there was a lot of optimistic talk about possibilities, about contact and reengagement but none of that made much of an impression on cub cubans tryingo leave their island home. in fiscal 2014 just over 3500 cubans tried to make it to the united states, and as new channels opened in 2015, that
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number jumped to more than 4400. fiscal 16 is just over two months old and already, thousands more are in other countries, trying to get to america. here's al jazeera's andy gallagher. >> reporter: this is a family gathering they felt might never happened. juan carlos and his 16-year-old daughter have been away from each other for months. but the journey was staggering. this is the day that they made landfall in their makeshift sailboat as they jumped from the vessel and clamored onto the beach, locals can be heard giving them welcome. but they had no food and water in their six day journey and it was only chance that brought them to shore here.
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aladay, session. >> we had to hurry up and get here. >> at the u.s. coast guard headquarters in miami, end to the wet foot dry foot policy are a major concern. the number making the crossing is far higher than it was in repeat years and desperate cubans are taking advantage of. >> if you are thinking of going, you better go now, you will miss your opportunity to get into the united states. we've been told that they have been doing this. >> quelling a rumor that's putting lives at risk, working with the local cuban community in the hope that the message will get back to the island. in the meantime, the number of those trying to make it to the u.s. by any means necessary continues to grow. >> the garcias are now reunited.
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if he had known about the crossing, he wouldn't have allowed his daughter to take such a massive risk. he's happy she's here but doesn't want any other members of the family to take such a huge risk. andy gallagher, marathon, florida. >> we'll look at this issue with mark rosenbloom. migration policy institute. welcome mark. along with people trying to make the boat trip across the florida straits, aren't there a lot of other people trying to come over land? >> yes, that's actually a much more common route at this point. about 85% of cubans who reached this country came over land, ecuador, taking a boat to mexico and traveling through mexico. >> is it difficult for a cuban
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on the island to go to another latin american nation to begin that journey? >> well, it is relatively easy to go to ecuador, cubans have visa free travel to ecuador, and in 2014, or in 2013, cuba essentially stopped exits. they used to prevent people from legally leaving, but almost at will now as long as they can buy a plane ticket, it is difficult to travel through central america and mexico, they will usually contract a smuggler to get them through central america and mexico. >> still friendly with the cuban government, it is my understanding when these aspiring refugees hit nicaragua they run into trouble. >> right now they do. just this week, nicaragua closed
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its border to cubans. i think it's because we've seen such a -- such large numbers of people trying to travel through that those countries want to secure their borders and have a little more control over who's flowing through. and nicaragua also may have been cooperating with cuba in make it more difficult for people to travel. >> some of the people watching this program perhaps have crossed over a land border from mexico into the united states. there are many. some of them very popular and heavily trafficked. when a cuban reaching te tij ti, how does that work? >> they'll wait in line with other people who are traveling legally to the u.s. but when they get to the front of the line they'll present their cuban
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passport and ask for asylum, to come in as a refugee. they are not technically allowed to come into the u.s. because they don't have a visa but under the cuban adjustment act as hits it's beeit'sbeen directed, offil patrol the cuban in and a year later they'll be eligible to apply for a green card. >> if we were to graph the case of the flows of the attempts to get into the united states, with events in cuba or in the united states, are there any other places that it lines up that we're seeing ah-ha, a spike now? >> you would also -- these trends go back to 2011. the number of cubans arriving at u.s. borders either by sea but
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typically by land have tripled since 2011. i think the markers that have put that in motion, one thing is that since 2009, the obama administration has eased restrictions on remittances so cubans have more resources to pay for a trip to the u.s. in 2013, cuba allowed people to leave so it's easier for people to get to ecuador and venezuela. at the end of 2014 the u.s. and cuba announced these diplomatic talks and have since normalized relations. as your intro said, there is a sense in cuba that this generous policy that's been in place since 1966 may be coming to an end. >> very quickly before we go, is there any legislative initiative to that effect in the works on the floor in committee written as a bill anything like that? >> well, there definitely are
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bills that have been proposed, to eliminate cuban adjustment act and you do hear i mean there are members of congress on both sides of the aisle, who are fed up with the cuban adjustment act. it is possible we would see legislative action, i agree with the premise of your question, the politics are so complicated but the executive branch could reinterpret or change the way it implements the cuban adjustment act without legislation. the cuban adjustment act givers them a green card a year later, doesn't require it. a new policy that requires cubans to demonstrate they have a humanitarian concern or they've been persecuted or been a political prisoner, and could treat other cubans the way they do central americans and mexicans if they choose to implement that policy.
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>> mark rosen bloom rosenbloom r joining us. one any other nation is the wet foot-dry foot policy, it allows any cuban legal residence in the united states if they can set their feet on american soil. with the strong upsurge of cubans trying to make it here, we ask are they afraid the new cuba-u.s. relationship may also bring to the end of this unique immigration status? still running away? it's the "inside story."
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♪ ♪ >> you're watching "inside story." i'm vawrs. ray suarez. the law called the cuban adjustment act, that person after a year would become a permanent resident of the united states. under bill clinton the law was modified which raised the stakes. if the boat was intercepted at sea, the passengers would be taken back to cuba. they're not allowed to proceed to the u.s. and almost certainly would be in trouble with the cuban authorities, though cuban authorities promised they wouldn't. are the aspiring refugees setting out from cub cuban soil, afraid they're grabbing a
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vanishing chance to make it to the u.s? joining me, carmen lomaline, alejandro, and john suarez. is this something that falls into the law of unintended consequences? did policy makers in the obama administration think that the new openings would have an effect of refugee flows to the united states? >> i'm sure it did. they had to have thought about it. cuba and the united states have been having migration talks for quite some time now. i'm sure that policy must have come into the discussion. one other point roy, the cuban government does not consider the cubans that leave, refugees. they bristle with that word. they say they left of their own free will.
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is there going to be a change of policy? i think so, i think so, because of how tough the cubans have been in this entire process, of opening the embassies. >> what would the people say their reasons were for doing it? >> well, it's obvious that the situation, the economic situation in cuba continues to be very bad.without any kind of window of opportunity for the future, especially for young people. so it is a -- it is a situation of no exit. so in this case, they come not only for themselves, but for their families. many of -- they hope for many to arrive here, work, and then be able to send remittances back to cuba, send goods and so on and that is already happening in a sort of vast scale. so the implication of that is
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that by easing the exit from the island, the government benefits in two ways. it benefits by the safety of having potential dissidents leave which is something the cuban government had done repeatedly on its history, and second from an increasing flow of remittances. coming primarily from south florida, and in a sense, serving as a table of salvation for many families in the island. >> john suarez, you just heard alessandro portes talking about political reasons. does this allow people into the united states almost with no restriction? >> no. i think first off we need to remember that the day before president obama announced his
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new cuba policy, a boat load of 32 refugees was sunk by the cuban coast guard. a gentleman died on december 16th, the rest of them were detained. in april 9th of this year, an individual aged 28 was shot in the back when he and a number of friends were trying to get on to a boat to go to the united states. the cuban regime does not allow the right to enter and exit their own country. they can wind up detained or murdered and there are case he that took place -- and it's interesting, every time we have seen an attempt by an administration, be the carter administration, clinton administration, obama administration, we have seen a worsening of the situation on the ground and also see an immigration crisis, in 1980 with
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mariel, and there is a dictatorship in cuba, that dictatorship systematically denies the rights of cubans and that leads for cubans wanting to flee. before the cuban adjustment system in 1966, there was a cuban exit that necessitated, but the castro dictatorship. >> stay with us. will this rising tempo of attempted crossings to the united states prompt a governmental response from either side of the florida strait as the national debates over immigration and syrian refugees heighten further the contrast ever american policy from cuba an the rest of the world. still running away, it's the
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"inside story." story."
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>> welcome back to "inside story." i'm ray suarez. this time on the program we're looking at the jump in people trying to make their way to the united states from cuba, many of them heading out into the open sea in all kinds of small boats, hoping to make it to american soil to get permanent resident status. the numbers are terribly dangerous and rising. there are oppressive regimes around the world, governments that hold political prisoners but no country holds as permissive system as between the united states and cuba, can the wet foot dry foot policy become a casualty of the diplomatic opening between havana and washington? >> john suarez no relation except perhaps in the dim past
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history, are still with me. professor portes, does the wider set of hemispheric relations create a disconnect? 9 kahns fleeing poverty in the western dominican republic, haitians fleeing poverty, if they arrived in their boat they would be simply turned around. >> well, definitely. this is a heritage of the cold war. and of the policies that were put in place at the time, which in a sense cubans as escapees of communism. that was the reason for the cuban adjustment act. and indeed the refugees that came in the 60s and 70s, especially the 70s were primarily political. in order to overflow castro's
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happening the bay of pigs, these are people who would never go back and who did not contribute and who did not send remittances. with time and the consolidation of the regime, the situation at present is that indeed, the cuban government which continues to be repressive and a dictatorship has ruined the economy of the country and closed the opportunities for many people to have a better life. these are people who were raised under the revolution who have seen nothing else but what they have seen in cuba. and they have -- that is in comparison with admi dominicansy have a similar situation, escaping a bad situation but as oprior speaker spoke remember this is now an autocracy. a very repressive regime. they have another reason to leave. however i will emphasize the
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economic and family reasons of this mass departure, that is signaled by the fact that many refugees who arrive in the united states today, go back to cuba. they not only send remittances but they go back regularly to visit their families. they are escaping a situation of despair in the island but they are not in a sense opposing in any militant way the regime. they are doing it on behalf of their families and in that sense, they -- the migration from cuba at this point comes to intlebresemble more and more thr countries of the less developed world that tries to make it from this country -- >> professor i want to go to john suarez, i want to know if we would be better advised to tell people to stay rather than risk their lives on the water where there might be a more
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permissive regime coming down the road. i understand why people leave and the reasons you submitted, but if we were standing in mariel, would you advise someone to get in a perhaps marginally sea worthy boat to take their chances? >> what has happened in the last six years under the obama administration, opposition leaders murdered where you have seen escalating levels of violence, just this past month 1400 arbitrary detentions. we have seen an activist who was a reformer within the system trying the keep the school open of children passed into the opposition and was subjected to a machete attack where she lost her left hand and was hit on the knee so she can't even bend down. what we have in cuba is essentially a tropical north korea.
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it's guaranteeing a succession from the fidel castro regime to -- >> i'm short on time. does the united states see what the cuban government does at this point as critical, or is it acting unilaterally, rather than looking for gestures from the other side to encourage further progress? >> ray i see the united states governmengovernment sees this aa process that has to evolve. they know full well the situation on the ground, the dictatorship, economic situation is dismal. however there is also the feeling that americans are the best ambassadors for democracy. and that getting more americans into the country to share our values, now, it's a process. and it will take a long time. >> i want to thank my guests, john suarez, you can read his posts at notes from the cuban
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exile quarter. alejandro cial portes, and carmn lomaline. i'll be back with a final thought on people on the move and the difference he between them. stay with us. it's "inside story."
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♪ ♪ >> people around the world are on the move. fleeing from failing reigns and dwindwindling harvests. just in recent years millions have left their home towns to be homeless in their own countries or cross the border to become refugees abroad. even after long term residents in the u.s. families, work histories, local ties, millions of cubans can't stay in the united states. legal residents if they so desire, already on the road to
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american citizenship. no wonder, people are willing to take the chance on improving their lives. it's an advantage rarely offered haitians, even when they suffered under murderous and repressive regimes. an advantage rarely offered dominicans, suffering under governments tormented by their uncle sam. two candidates for president, marko rubio and ted cruz. both cuba and mexico should stay just as they are. and analysts who have argued that the two senators might help republicans with latino voters may get a chance to see that proposition tested. i'm suarez, that's the "inside
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story." this is al jazeera america live from new york city. i'm tony harris, a day of rage, gunmen storm a hoelgs in naturally leaving dozens dead including an american who was behind the deadly attack. expanded police powers. france extends the state of emergency for another three months. record high. the homicide rate in baltimore hits levels that haven't been seen since the 1990s. it's been called an antibiotic apocalypse. the


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