Immigration Equality

Would Elian Gonzalez have been allowed to start an international immigration war if he had been Haitian or any other Black immigrant? or would he have been immediately sent back?

( – On November 25, 1999, two American fishermen found Cuban immigrant Elian Gonzalez in the ocean and  brought him to Florida. His mother and nine others drowned when their boat capsized during their attempt to reach Cuba. A Florida judge gave Gonzalez’s Miami-area relatives temporary custody, concluding that he was in danger of being abused if he were returned to Cuba, but the state judge’s ruling was declared null and void by the INS. The INS maintains that only Gonzalez’s father in Cuba can apply for asylum on his behalf.

The Los Angeles Times reported that the Elian Gonzalez case illustrates how relatively well-off Cubans are coming to south Florida with the help of for-profit smugglers. About 2,500 Cubans made it to Florida between October 1998 and December 1999—if they reach US soil, they can stay. About 1,500 Cubans were intercepted at sea and returned to Cuba.

Black leaders used the Elian Gonzalez case to protest what they called a double standard—400 Haitian migrants whose ship ran aground in Miami on New Year’s eve were returned to Haiti. One woman was admitted to the US to apply for asylum; her two children were returned to Haiti and then permitted to join her in Florida.

An estimated one million of the eight million Haitians would emigrate if they could. In FY99, about 20,000 Haitians applied for immigrant visas; 9,000 were granted. Another 50,000 applied for tourist visas; 19,000 were granted. More and more Haitians are trying to be smuggled into Florida. Most leave from Tortue Island, an island of 29,000 people that lacks electricity, phones and running water, for the four- to five-day voyage to Florida. Most report paying about $5,000, half up front and half after their arrival—migrants are often held in a safe house in Miami until their relatives pay the rest of the smuggling fee.

the boy was rescued by


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