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Cuban-American lawyer group: Grassley amendment bad for Cuban refugees

One of the least-talked about but most-significant aspects of the nation's immigration debate is the outsized influence of Cuban-Americans. Sen. Marco Rubio is helping push the immigration bill with Sen. Bob Menendez and Sen. Ted Cruz is essentially fighting them. In the House, Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart is one of the key players.

So perhaps it's little wonder that Cuban refugees, who get a de facto pathway to citizenship by virtue of longstanding U.S. law, will continue to get that special immigration treatment.

Still, there are concerns in the Cuban-American community with the immigration debate. Today, the Cuban American Bar Association wrote a letter voicing its opposition to one of the many amendments to the Senate's immigration bill offered by Sen. Charles Grassley of Iowa.

Some key excerpts:

In CABA’s view, one shared by many practitioners and scholars of constitutional and immigration law, “Grassley53” would permit a process contrary to the Supreme Court’s decisions in Zadvydas v. Davis, 588 U.S. 678 (2001), and Clark v. Martinez, 543 U.S. 371 (2005), as well as federal district court rulings. “Grassley53” would allow the Department of Homeland Security to indefinitely detain Cuban refugees, as well as others in similar situations, with final removal orders that cannot be carried out.

In 2004, CABA signed a brief as amicus curiae before the Supreme Court in support of the immigrant detainee in Clark v. Martinez. At the time, CABA objected to a so-called “Cuban Review Plan” administrative scheme, which would have led to arbitrary outcomes with minimal due process protections. We gave the example of “Eduardo Dominguez, who came to the United States during the Mariel boatlift [and] was detained in a federal prison for six years despite repeated recommendations of release.” The Supreme Court vindicated our position in its decision, stating that it must adhere to Zadvydas to “prevent the arbitrary and indefinite detention of Mariel Cubans at the virtually unfettered discretion of an administrative official.”....

A great number of CABA’s original members were Cuban immigrants themselves -- including attorneys and judges from their homeland -- who immigrated lawfully to this country and worked to, in turn, become key stakeholders in their communities. Two of your own fellow U.S. Senators, Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz, are sons of Cuban immigrants. We urge your committee to be mindful of their success as you consider amendments to S. 744. [Bloggers note: What about Sen. Bob Menendez?]

CABA fears that amendments that provide for indefinite detention, or erode the current system of judicial review, will have a chilling effect on efforts to achieve meaningful bipartisan immigration reform. Accordingly, we are also troubled by Senator Cruz’s amendment that would strike language aimed at protecting immigrants from being deported based on state immigration laws, such as Arizona’s S.B. 1070.

Download CABA