George Graham

The Immigration Morass



You might be surprised when you hear Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz vowing to close America’s borders and get tough with “illegal immigrants.” After all, both are sons of Cuban immigrants.

(Ted Cruz is half-Cuban; his mother was Anglo. Both of Rubio’s parents came from Cuba.)

But neither Cruz nor Rubio represents the majority of immigrants – documented or undocumented – in America.

Their parents didn’t have to go through the red tape that we Jamaicans, for example, have to negotiate.

Cubans have a special deal. After the Castro revolution, the US decided to let Cuban “refugees” stay once they touched the American shore. So if a Cuban and a Haitian were shipwrecked while trying to escape tyranny and both managed to swim to shore in America, the Cuban could stay but the Haitian would be sent home.

As a native of Jamaica. I didn’t have a ghost of a chance of living to see my quota number come up until the law changed in the mid-70s allowing a special exemption to married children of US citizens. As it happened, my mother who married a Canadian after my father died, had become a US citizen after living in Florida for years.

Politicians talk long and loudly about immigration, but I doubt they’re really familiar with the labyrinth of legal immigration. It makes lawyers rich and leaves millions of would-be immigrants in despair.

There’s one law for the Cubans, another for the rest of us. One law for the geeks, nurses and doctors, another for the able-bodied youth from the Islands who has only a high school education. One law for relatives of US citizens, another for “refugees,” and yet another for “fiances” and “spouses” of US citizens…

And if you happen to have capital to invest, you can skip the red tape. It used to be $100,000, but the last I heard it was a million (as I recall). And so on…

It’s no wonder the immigration laws are so widely abused. From what I read and hear, there are entire communities of “illegal immigrants” in Miami, and I believe there’s a community of Jamaican “guest workers” who came – generations ago – to harvest sugar cane on the shores of Lake Okeechobee and have never gone home.

Most of what I hear the politicians say about immigration seems like so much hot air to me. Building that wall for example. And hiring thousands of guards to police the border. Don’t they know a lot of illegal immigrants arrive on a commercial airliner?

And the immigrants are not all from Latin America. They come from the islands, Europe, Asia, Australia… from the far corners of the earth.

I still haven’t heard any of the politicians say anything sensible about reforming the legal immigration system. And I think that’s where immigration “reform” needs to begin.

Click for Cruz vs. Rubio.

Click for Caribbean immigration.

About the author


I am a Jamaican-born writer who has lived and worked in Canada and the United States. I live in Lakeland, Florida with my wife, Sandra, our three cats and two dogs. I like to play golf and enjoy our garden, even though it's a lot of work. Since retiring from newspaper reporting I've written a few books. I also write a monthly column for