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Illegal Immigration Problem? It Depends On What Country You Come From

Reported by Ellen - February 22, 2006

I haven’t written much about this but one of the recurring issues on Hannity & Colmes is that of illegal immigration. Sean Hannity has taken several trips to the Mexican border and the show regularly hosts guests who promote the need for better security at our borders and increased enforcement of our immigration laws. But what’s good for the Mexicans doesn’t apply to the Cubans. A recent story, about a group of Cuban immigrants sent back to Cuba because ICE determined that they had not landed on US shore, not only outraged Hannity, he flew to Miami and devoted half a program to it last night (2/21/06).

I can’t remember Hannity showing any sympathy for the dangers any Mexicans have faced in their journey to America, nor the problems encountered – bureaucratic or otherwise – once they get here (though Alan Colmes regularly addresses those questions). But just the way Hannity set up the discussion made it pretty clear that in his mind, Cuban refugees are entitled to more leniency than Mexicans.

In late December of this year, 15 Cubans left Cuba in a ramshackle boat sailing for Florida and freedom from Castro’s regime. Now, before sunrise on December the 26th, the boat began to sink. But then the 15 discovered what could have been a Christmas miracle. Their boat had hit a portion of the old seven-mile bridge that runs through the Florida Keys. But the bridge is being dismantled and a few sections are missing. All 15, including a two-year old boy, managed to climb out of the sinking boat and cling to that bridge. The mother of the two-year-old was even able to use a cell phone to call her cousin in Miami. Now they thought they had reached freedom… because the United States has a special immigration policy for Cuban citizens called ‘Wet foot, dry foot.’ If a Cuban fleeing Castro’s communism manages to somehow reach dry land in the United States, then that individual is granted political asylum and may legally reside here in the United States but if a Cuban citizen is picked up on the open water, he or she is considered wet foot and is sent back to Cuba to face retribution from Castro. For some reason, in the case of these 15 Cubans, the Coast Guard made a decision that because a portion of the bridge that the Cubans clung to no longer touched land, that they would all be considered wet feet and immediately sent back to Castro and they were.

Hannity took a boat trip with the relatives back to the bridge “that is now at the center of this international controversy.” That was followed by emotional footage of the relatives talking about the terrible conditions in Cuba and the freedoms the refugees hoped for in the US. Hannity wondered if the wet foot, dry foot policy shouldn’t be reconsidered to make it more lenient in order to give a better opportunity “to live in freedom.”

“Who can intervene here and change this and get Miguel’s relatives and the others’ back into this country?” Alan Colmes asked the attorney who represents the relatives. When the attorney said that someone from the government could “pick up the phone and reverse” the decision, Hannity expressed the hope that it would happen.

Comment: There are lots of very troubling immigration situations, especially post 9/11. I’m sure there are many Mexican immigrants who have faced heartbreaking bureaucratic bungling. But on H&C, they are all lawbreakers we need to rid ourselves of.

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