News and Facts about Cuba

No Senate vote for Marco Rubio’s move to stop welfare benefits for Cuban ‘refugees’

No Senate vote for Marco Rubio’s move to stop welfare benefits for Cuban
‘refugees’

He tried to strip Cubans of a special immigration status
The status makes them immediately eligible for welfare benefits
Some of them abuse the privilege
BY PATRICIA MAZZEI

The U.S. Senate refused to vote Thursday on Florida Sen. Marco Rubio’s
bid to stop giving automatic welfare benefits to Cuban immigrants,
prompting an exasperated Rubio to take to the Senate floor to blast
political paralysis in Congress.

“This is why people are so sick of politics,” said Rubio, who noted
that, until a month ago, he was a Republican presidential candidate
hearing from voters about their frustrations with lawmakers. “You can
vote for a Democrat, you can vote for a Republican, you can vote for a
vegetarian. It doesn’t matter who you vote for: Nothing happens. These
people don’t do anything.”

“No one can argue this,” he added of his proposal, which he argued would
put an end to abuse by some Cubans who take the welfare dollars back to
the island. “But I can’t even get a vote on an amendment to change this.”

And why not? According to Rubio, because fellow Republicans tell him, “
‘We can’t vote on it because if we give you your amendment, then we have
to give the other side their amendment.’ ” (The other side being Democrats.)

“This is crazy. This is nuts. We can’t solve problems,” Rubio said. He
noted that the plan has bipartisan support: U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman
Schultz of Weston, the Democratic National Committee chairwoman, is a
cosponsor in the House of Representatives. Florida’s senior senator,
Democrat Bill Nelson, signed on to Rubio’s bill Thursday, saying the
welfare benefits “were meant to help those fleeing by
Castro’s oppressive regime, not to be a source of income for those who
returned to Cuba.”

“This is not partisan. It’s not about getting anyone elected to
anything. I’m not running for anything,” said Rubio, who’s not seeking
reelection. “This is about being able to go back to my home community
and say to people, ‘This abuse has been addressed.’ But if I go home
tonight or tomorrow to Florida, when I go home, and I run into somebody
at the grocery store, I can’t explain to them with a straight face why
the Senate won’t give me a vote, because it makes no sense. If I came to
you and said, ‘They are stealing $700 million a year from you, and
here’s a very simple way to stop it,’ you would say, ‘Let’s do it. We’ve
got to do it.’ ”

The Cuban-American senator from West Miami delivered his 25-minute
denunciation after his colleagues failed to schedule a vote on his plan,
which he tried to tack on as an amendment to a bill funding the Federal
Aviation Administration. Rubio was one of four senators to vote against
ending debate on the FAA bill, which essentially called off voting on
any amendments that could slow the legislation’s passage — at least for
now. The FAA bill could still be amended early next week, thanks to a
delay prompted by Rubio’s two-day push this week.

The only legal immigrants automatically treated as refugees for welfare
benefits under federal law are Cubans and Haitians. That status makes
those immigrants immediately eligible for welfare benefits. Neither
Rubio’s legislation nor the similar House measure, sponsored by Miami
Republican Rep. Carlos Curbelo, would affect Haitians. Cubans would be
stripped of their special refugee status and be forced — like immigrants
of other nationalities — to prove they’ve been persecuted.

Source: No Senate vote for Marco Rubio’s move to stop welfare benefits
for Cuban ‘refugees’ | Miami Herald –
www.miamiherald.com/news/politics-government/article71886157.html

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