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Opening Arguments

Dry heaves

I saw a report on CBS this morning about a great surge in the number of Cubans trying to cross the 90-mile strectch of water between the island and the United States and thought, "What the hell?" Isn't a major point of "normalizing" relations with Cuba to cut down on the number of people fleeing that country? Why are we suddenly an even more attractive destination? Naturally I had to turn to the print medium to get the part of the story TV couldn't bother with:

U.S. officials attribute the rise to rumors that as U.S.-Cuba diplomatic relations resume, the United States will change its so-called “wet foot, dry foot” policy that allows Cuban migrants who reach American soil to remain in the country.

Well, now. That makes perfect sense.

The "wet foot, dry foot" policy is one of those weird, convoluted pieces of tortuous diplomacy that only a progressive Democrat could dream up. It was President Clinton's effort to get on Fidel Castro's good side (as if he had one) by ending the policy instituted shortly after Castro's reign started of automatically granting asylum to Cuban exiles. From 1995 on, only Cubans who made it to shore would be welcomed. Those intercepted at sea would be sent packing.

It seems more inhumane the longer you think about it. It would be like the North granting asylum to any slave who made it to Massachusetts but sending back those who got caught in Pennsylvania. People as a group either deserve sanctuary or they don't. Making them pass some sort of endurance test gets very close to the edge of basic human rights.

My family was part of the great hillbilly diaspora -- people fleeing the coal mines to find all those good-paying jobs in the Michigan auto factories. But we were among the unambitious ones, got to Indiana and said, "Oh, hell, this is good enough for us." Maybe they should have sent us back.