Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), senior member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, issued the following statement on the latest announcement regarding U.S. policy towards Cuba.
“As a beacon of light for those fleeing persecution and oppression, the United States has a rich history of creating programs specifically designed to provide a safe haven and refuge for those who truly need it. Throughout their murderous reign, hundreds of thousands of Cubans have fled from the Castros’ regime seeking safe haven in the United States. Those who further risked their lives by sea and reached our shores have been afforded the opportunity to expedite their claims to U.S. citizenship.
“These policies reflect our commitment to the values of liberty and democracy. We should never deny a Cuban refugee fleeing a brutal regime entry into the United States. We must remind ourselves every day of the continued oppression and human suffering that is happening – not only halfway around the world, but just 90 miles off our shores. The ongoing repressive behavior of the Cuban regime still haunts our hemisphere today.
“The fact is the recent ill-conceived changes in American policy towards Cuba have rewarded the regime with an economic lifeline while leaving every day Cubans less hopeful about their futures under a brutal totalitarian dictatorship. And while more needs to be done to prevent the small universe arriving from Cuba who may seek to exploit the privileges and freedoms that come with the Wet-Foot Dry-Foot policy, those few actors should not destroy our efforts to protect the many who are forced to flee persecution.
“To be sure, today’s announcement will only serve to tighten the noose the Castro regime continues to have around the neck of its own people.
“Congress was not consulted prior to this abrupt policy announcement with just nine days left in this administration. The Obama administration seeks to pursue engagement with the Castro regime at the cost of ignoring the present state of torture and oppression, and its systematic curtailment of freedom.”