Cuban 'boatlift' to Florida spotlights ambiguous US immigration policy

Cuba's dramatic "boatlift" to Florida puts new strain on the ambiguous United States immigration policy, which some regard as near breakdown. Rising unemployment in the US, which hit 7 percent in April, accentuates the problem.

Unemployment in Detroit's auto plants may reach 40 or 50 percent by this summer when the Republican convention meets there. Unemployment of teen-aged blacks for the nation is already around 30 percent.

Last year the US Immigration and Naturalization Service turned back 1 million illegal immigrants at America's borders, and some think as many or more slipped across.

Cuba appears to be exporting unemployment to other countries. Industrial nations in Europe regularly import labor from low-income neighbors in prosperous times, and send them back in recession.

The United States, on the other hand, has increased the number of "refugees" even with unemployment high at home. Cuba now is estimated to have 250,000 eager to leave. Their departure would aid Fidel Castro in disposing of the politically disaffected, at the same time transferring the pressure of unemployment to outside nations.

The Cuban issue once more highlights the failure of the US to resolve a poignant emotional issue: to continue its policy as a nation of immigrants to welcome the world's hungry and poor, or to accept the reality of rising global population and to protect its standard of living and its unemployed workers.

Failure to create jobs in communist Cuba is bringing hundreds of bedraggled refugees to Key West, Fla., where federal immigration policy still appears obscure. Some 8,000 have arrived in small boats, with hundreds more on the way.Some Floridians are getting nervous -- even signing petitions to stop the wholesale influx of refugees; others assail their neighbors for not wanting to accept those fleeing the Castro society.

Meanwhile, the political power of Hispanics in the United States is an increasing reality. Bilingualism is on the increase.

The natural rate of US population increase, according to the Population Reference Bureau, is 0.7 percent; Cuba's 1.2 percent; Mexico's 3.1 percent; the world's 1.7 percent.

With about 5 percent of the world's population, the US used one-third of its energy.

World population is around 4.4 billion and expected to double by the year 2020. One in eight of the world's people suffers malnutrition, a presidential commission reported April 26.

The US has the most liberal immigration laws in the world, officials admitting about 300,000 foreigners a year. In addition, there are refugees and so-called illegals. The latter, according to knowledgeable sources, far outnumber those legally admitted.

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