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David Rivera seeks to restrict some Cubans from returning to the island

U.S. Rep. David Rivera said Tuesday he wants to sanction Cuban Americans who return to the island less than five years after they left, alleging that they are abusing a loophole in the Cuban Adjustment Act and helping the country’s communist system.

The South Florida Republican submitted a bill on Aug. 1 to deal with the growing complaint that Cubans benefit from the CAA as refuge-seekers but then return to the island just to visit relatives or even to vacation.

Approved in 1966 for the tens of thousands of Cubans who were fleeing the communist government at the height of the Cold War, the CAA offers U.S. residency 366 days after arrival and other benefits. Citizens of no other country receive such benefits.

“The original intent of the CAA was to provide status to Cuban refugees because they were not able to return to Cuba,” Rivera told El Nuevo Herald. “That political situation remains the same today, with a communist totalitarian dictatorship in power.”

“We have to do something about those who avail themselves of an act designed to protect them from persecution and then travel back to the persecuting country in an obvious abuse of the law,” he added.

Criticism of the CAA has been building in recent years around the United States and even among South Florida’s older Cuban exile community, as growing numbers of Cuban arrivals argue that they left the island for economic rather than political reasons.

More from Juan O. Tamayo here.