In the United States Senate, there is one Hispanic American representing all USA Hispanics but not all Hispanic Americans think as one monolithic group.
How we arrived in the United States has a significant influence on how we think as American Hispanics.
Puerto Ricans, Cubans and Mexicans are all treated differently by the United States government. (In this article all other Latin American groups where there are subtle cultural differences are grouped together as one group for immigration purposes and this is the "Mexican" group).
The Puerto Ricans are U.S. Citizens so they do not have to deal with immigration law. They can freely enter and leave the Untied States. They can vote in all U.S. Elections if they are residents within the United States.
Cubans need only to put one toe on U.S. soil and they are granted automatic provisions on becoming a U.S. citizen.
Mexicans even thought there is a treaty between the United States and Mexico granting some special considerations to the Mexicans and their descendents, all Mexicans must adhere to all immigration law as all other persons from all other countries. Separated by only a line in the sand or river, Mexicans have no consideration for entry by visa other than as required by all other persons, except Puerto Ricans and Cubans, in the world.
Puerto Ricans and Cubans do not have to comply with stringent archaic immigration laws of the United States. Consequently, all persons entering the United States utilize a different point of reference than all others except Puerto Ricans and Cubans who are given special preferences resulting in Mexicans and all other Latin Americans treated as outcasts.
This is a profound significant reason why Puerto Ricans and Cubans do not view the need for Immigration Reform as do Mexicans.
Puerto Rico is an "unincorporated territory" of the United States which according to the U.S. Supreme Court's Insular Cases is "a territory appurtenant and belonging to the United States, but not a part of the United States." Puerto Rico is subject to U.S. federal law, even though Puerto Rico is not a state of the American Union but has no voting representative in the U.S. Congress.
Since 1917, people born in Puerto Rico are U.S. citizens and therefore can enter and leave the United States as any other U.S. citizen; however, federal electoral law does not grant a vote to any citizen who does not live in, or qualify as an absentee resident in, one of the fifty states or the District of Columbia. Thus, people who have always lived in Puerto Rico cannot vote in federal elections, but people born in Puerto Rico and living in a state or in DC can vote.
Political upheaval in Cuba created new waves of Cuban immigrants to the U.S. between 1960–1980. In 1959, after the Cuban revolution led by Fidel Castro, a large Cuban exodus began as the new government allied itself with the Soviet Union and began to introduce communism. From 1960 to 1979, hundreds of thousands of Cubans left Cuba and began a new life in the United States. Most Cuban Americans that arrived in the United States initially came from Cuba's educated upper and middle classes. Between December 1960 and October 1962 more than 14,000 Cuban children arrived alone in the U.S. Their parents were afraid that their children were going to be sent to some Soviet bloc countries to be educated and they decided to send them to the States as soon as possible.
This program was called Operation Pedro Pan (Operation Peter Pan). When the children arrived in Miami they were met by representatives of Catholic Charities and they were sent to live with relatives if they had any or were sent to foster homes, orphanages or boarding schools until their parents could leave Cuba. In order to provide aid to recently arrived Cuban immigrants, the United States Congress passed the Cuban Adjustment Act in 1966. The Cuban Refugee Program provided more than $1.3 billion of direct financial assistance. They also were eligible for public assistance, Medicare, free English courses, scholarships, and low-interest college loans. Some banks even pioneered loans for exiles who did not have collateral or credit but received help in getting a business loan. These loans enabled many Cuban Americans to secure funds and start up their own businesses. With their Cuban-owned businesses and low cost of living, Miami, Florida and Union City, New Jersey (dubbed "Little Havana-on-the Hudson") were the preferred destinations for many immigrants and soon became the main centers for Cuban American culture. It was not until the mass exodus of the Cuban exiles in 1959 that Miami started to become a preferred destination. Westchester, Florida within Miami-Dade County, stands as the area most populated by Cubans and Cuban Americans in the United States, followed by Hialeah, Florida in second.
Another large wave of an estimated 125,000 people of Cuban immigration occurred in the early 1980s with the Mariel boatlifts. Most of the "Marielitos" were people wanting to escape from communist tyranny, and have succeeded in establishing their roots in the US.
The wet foot, dry foot policy is the name given to a consequence of the 1995 revision of the Cuban Adjustment Act of 1966 that says, essentially, that anyone who fled Cuba and got into the United States would be allowed to pursue residency a year later. After talks with the Cuban government, the Clinton administration came to an agreement with Cuba it would stop admitting people found at sea. Since then, in what has become known as the "wet foot, dry foot" policy, a Cuban caught on the waters between the two nations (i.e., with "wet feet") would summarily be sent home or to a third country. One who makes it to shore ("dry feet") gets a chance to remain in the United States, and later would qualify for expedited "legal permanent resident" status and U.S. citizenship.
Since the mid-1990s, after the implementation of the "Wet Foot, Dry Foot" policy immigration patterns changed. Many Cuban immigrants departed from the southern and western coasts of Cuba and arrived at the Yucatán Peninsula in Mexico; many landed on Isla Mujeres. From there Cuban immigrants traveled to the Texas-Mexico border and found asylum. Many of the Cubans who did not have family in Miami settled in Houston; this has caused Houston's Cuban American community to increase in size. The term "dusty foot" refers to Cubans immigrating to the U.S. through Mexico. In 2005 the Department of Homeland Security had abandoned the approach of detaining every dry foot Cuban who crosses through Texas and began a policy allowing most Cubans to obtain immediate parole.
Why Cuban Americans Vote Republican
Probably because Cubans do not like the communist regime in Cuba and identify with the Republican party's strong anti-communist, pro-capitalist point of view, Cuban Americans vote Republican.
To understand Miami Cuban politics, one must go back to the Bay of Pigs invasion, which some Miami Cubans will tell you President John F. Kennedy blundered.
The invasion took place two years after Fidel Castro seized power from Fulgencio Batista, a U.S.-backed dictator who would order public executions of children.
On April 17, 1961, a brigade of CIA-trained Cuban exiles invaded a beach in southern Cuba with the expectation the United States Air Force would provide them air support.
The air support never came. Kennedy called it off when it became apparent the American involvement in the invasion was no secret and had the potential to lead to a full-scale war against the Soviet Union.
More than 1,200 exiles were captured and 118 killed in the failed invasion.
Although Kennedy negotiated a deal with Castro to exchange $53 million in food and medicine for the release of the prisoners 20 months later, his credibility within the exile community was destroyed and the majority of Cuban exiles became diehard Republicans.
“Our perception is JFK fell asleep at the switch,” said Henry Gomez, a Cuban American born in Miami who is a main contributor on the right-wing blog Babalu, which bills itself as an “island on the net without a bearded dictator.”
Democratic presidents since then have been perceived as dupes.