COMPARING IMMIGRATION: MARIEL AND MEXICO

If people really want to understand the risks of accepting unbridled swarms of refugees from another country, they should look no further than Cuba 90 miles from our shores.

     The original flow of Cuban refugees began in 1960 bringing hundreds of thousands of desperate new residents into our country, the majority of whom settled in South Florida. Until then, Miami was considered a moderate tourist town; Winter Wonderland. 

     I well remember that crisis. I was a rookie cop assigned to the airport when the first waves of Cuban people began arriving on boats and planes. Interesting enough, Castro allowed these folks access to the U.S., but required everyone to leave personal belongings behind, including homes and bank accounts. Most of the early 1960s refugees were well-educated, middle to upper class, skilled and an asset to the population. They were also proud people asking very few entitlements from our country other than asylum and emergency health benefits. Many Cubans thought Castro would not last and they could return to their homes. Never happened.

     Some moved into apartments, three families at a time. I remember Cuban men selling bananas at busy intersections. Some had been bankers, civil servants and business owners in Cuba.

     At first, Castro had us all fooled including our own government, unaware that Cuba’s new leaders were actually furtive followers of Marxism. Meanwhile, Castro seized the properties of refugees and all personal assets. Communism did not allow elections, personal choice, self-determination, and above all, no free speech.  In the early stages, many Cuban dissenters were rounded up and imprisoned, executed, or deemed missing.

          The “unbridled swarm,” mentioned above, occurred in May of 1980 when Castro decided to rid his country of costly burdens to the Cuban economy. He authorized the release of people from jails and prisons, mental institutions, the old, crippled and infirmed, the handicapped and those who were a drain to the Castro regime. He figured he’d transfer his worst problems to President Carter and the American people.

     It worked.

     Over five months, more than 125,000 refugees departed Cuba’s Port of Mariel where they boarded dilapidated boats of all kinds and disembarked on the shores of Southeast Florida. Harvard economist George Borjas determined, in his 2016 study, that 60 percent of these refugees had not graduated high school and the remaining were mostly unskilled people. The catastrophic impact upon South Florida created huge demands and economic drains on local government.

     Imagine the population of Brevard County or Dade County suddenly exploding by nearly ten percent overnight. The infrastructure is simply unprepared for that.

     In 1980, the Dade County murder rate tripled, as did many other crimes, including rapes and assaults. Bodies were showing up along roadsides, car trunks and bodies of water, many of whom had no identity records in America. Neither did the unknown perpetrators, whose identity records did not exist. Detectives were stretched to the limits while many other unsolved criminal investigations suffered from lack of attention. The medical examiner had to set up a separate refrigerator truck to handle the volume of corpses. Jails overflowed. Hospital emergency services could barely keep up with demands. Fire and police calls soared. Illegal drugs and drug pushers became ubiquitous. More gangs were formed. Schools admitted kids by the thousands, few of whom could speak English. That impacted the quality of education for the local children.

     Meanwhile, thousands of these people set up “Tent City” under bridges, causeways and in sports arenas throughout the county. Local residents started bolting their doors. The infrastructure of Miami was not prepared.

     Books have been written about the Mariel Boat Lift and the Cuban crisis. I have great friends of Cuban descent, many of whom have served honorably on the public payroll at my side. But I fear for the survival of our nation if we allow open borders to all who want to come, and declare cities as sanctuaries from law enforcement.  Once that slippery slope is reached, there will be no turning back.

     With an open borders policy for everyone, unbridled immigration by the thousands, or millions, from small nations below Mexico, along with Mexicans, would devastate the southern border states in which all people would suffer, including American taxpayers. The sheer numbers would dwarf the impact of the Mariel boat lift. Much like Miami in the early 1980s, crime would run rampant schools would overflow along with hospitals and jails, and housing would be booming for the tent industry.

     President Trump is doing the right thing in trying to rein in illegal immigration. Without that, American taxpayers would suffer.

     Politicians who declare cities and states as “sanctuary” are extending a welcome mat for law breakers. That makes them law-breakers as well because they are aiding and abetting the those who break our immigration laws. When laws can be broken with impunity, it breeds anarchy. From there, we would cease having a sovereign nation that we have been fighting for over 230 years. Then we’ll look back and scratch our heads:  What did we do wrong?

     Too late.