July 18, 1980 | Backgrounder on Latin America
124 July 18, 1980 THE CUBAN REFUGEE PROBLEM IN PERSPECTIVE 1959-1980 INTRODUCTION On Tuesday; April 3, 1980, six Cubans crashed through the gate of the Peruvian Embassy in Havana seeking political asylum.
During the incident a Cuban policeman guarding the compound was killed and the Castro government removed the remainder of the guard in presumed retaliation Within forty-eight hours, over ten thousand Cubans had sought asylum in the unprotected embassy and perhaps as many as 100,000 had congregated in areas adjacent to the site, hoping to find means to enter.
Thus began a new Cuban exodus On April 23, Fidel Castro opened the door to a migration of unprecedented proportions when, in a reversal of his lon g-held pol&cy, he declared that all Cubans who wished to leave the island not just those within the Peruvian Embassy compound could do so. When he abruptly cancelled the transportation arrangements agreed upon an airlift via Costa Rica), Cuban exiles in F l orida.formed a spontaneous boat-lift 114,462 Cubans had been brought to Key West on conveyances rangi from shrimp vessels to small pleasure boats By June 20 President.CarterIs policy toward these events has undergone several changes all, the Administratio n subsequently establi.shed a quota of 3,SQO. As the boat-lift began, it declared the transporting of Cubans to be illegal and began selectively impounding boats.
May 5, in what appeared to be a change in policy, President Carter announced that the U.S. would provide Itan open heart and open armsll to the Cubans Initially reluctant to take any refugees at On The boat seizures, however, continued.
On May 14, the President ordered the Coast Guard to form a cordon around Florida waters to prevent additional b oats from heading to Cuba and threatened to impose severe fines on boats 2 illegally transporting refugees. In conjunction with this, he expressed willingness in principle to establish an orderly airlift for Cubans allowed to leave the island in the futur e.
President Carter s orders effectively brought the transporta tion of refugees to an end. By late May, only a few dozen boats remained in Mariel, the port of exodus for the emigrants, and by mid-June, the arrival of new boatloads of refugees on U.S. shores had effectively stopped. As no progress has been made in estab lishing an official airlift, it appears that the flood of new refugees has, at least for the present, come to an end For Americans, the new...Cuban exodus has posed' difficult questions. Occur r ing shortly after the arrival of hundreds of thousands of Indochinese refugees (who even now continue to arrive at,the rate of 160,000 a year coinciding with an increase in the number of Haitians seeking refuge on our shores, and coming at a time of deepe ning economic recession, it has caused many Americans to reevaluate the historic role of the U.S. as sanctuary for the needy and politically oppressed.
This paper does not attempt to analyze the moral problems raised by the Cuban migration, but instead to provide factual information relevant to the forhation of policy on the subject.
While the final decision on a refugee policy is ultimately subjec tive, certain practical considerations play an important role HISTORICAL BACXGROUND OF CUBAN REFUGEE PROBLEM The most fundamental point to be considered is the extent to which the new refugees, on whose behalf hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars are spent, will ultimately make a significant contribution to our society. While it is impossible to look into th e future, a good indicator of what might be expected exists in the development of the Cuban exile community which has formed in the U.S. over the'past twenty years.
Since 1959, Cubans have been engaged in one of the most si-gnificant migrations, proportionally, in modern times. Over eight percent of the island's population has gone into exile with around 700,000 coming to the U.S. prior to 1980 in several phases.
Between January 1, 1959 and the October 22, 1962 Missile Crisis, 248,070 migrated to the Unite d States. In early 1959 members of the political and military elite fled, followed by members of the propertied and professional sectors, who by 1961 comprised 45 percent of the registrants with the Cuban Refugee Program. It soon became far more than an e x odus of the elite for by the end of the first phase, over 50 percent of the Refugee Program registrants were clerical and sales workers and skilled workers. This period also saw the arrival of some 13,000 unaccom panied children sent to the U.S. by parent s fearful of government control of their lives 3 When Cuba barred entry to the U.S. after the Missile Crisis direct emigration was limited to such exceptional cases as the Bay of Pigs POWs and their families, and certain American citizens.
In consequence, illegal escape became an important outlet. A large percentage of the 55,916 Cubans departing between 1962 and 1965 escaped by means of dangerous boat journeys, with the remain der flying initially to Mexico or Spain in the hope of later gaining admission t o the U.S. The deterioration of conditions in Cuba was reflected in the background of the immigrants who came during this period: by 1963, a majority of those facing the hazards of illegal boat trips to the Florida Keys were peasants and laborers In 1965, legal emigration from Cuba was reestablished with the Freedom Flights airlift to Miami, which during its six years of existence brought to the U.S. 297,318 relatives of existing exiles. After its end, Cuban migration patterns reverted to those of the post - 1962 lull, with Spain and Mexico again becoming the principal avenues of departure for refugees on their way to the United States. Because of a change in U.S. law subjecting them to immigration quota limitations, however, the number arriv ing in this coun try was small in relation to the earlier migration.
In 1978 a new kind of exile began leaving Cuba political prisoners being allowed to depart by Fidel Castro. In all between 1973 and the end of 1978, 50,357 additional Cubans entered the United States THE U.S. RESPONSE TO CUBAN REFUGEES, 1960-1980 By late 1960 over 100,000 refugees had arrived in Miami, and continued pouring in at the rate of 1,700 a week as had been given to prior arrivals, who because of Cuban rules forbidding their removal of assets fro m the island had no means of supporting themselves, derived from private sources. On December 2 of that year, the U..S. government became officially involved with the creation of the Cuban Refugee Emergency Center.
The $4 million initially budgeted for the program sustained a staff of fourteen, which eventually grew to a high of 328 the President's Contingency Fund under the Mutual Security Act of 19
54. The following year, the President's Contingency Fund under the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 provided $38.5 million.
Thereafter, until 1980, funds were specifically appropriated by Congress annually under the Migration and Refugees Assistance Act adopted in 1962 Such assistance During its first six months, the program was financed through A new statutory base for the program was recently created with the passage of P.L. 96-212, the Refugee Act of 1980, as a result of which all U.S. refugee programs have come under a policy and management network headed by the U.S. Coordinator for Refugee Affairs. The Depa r tment of State and the Department of Health and Human Services have assumed primary responsibility,a 4 respectively, for the international and domestic aspects of refugee concerns. In addition, the new law makes changes in the funding of refugee programs, gradually eliminating the full federal reimbursement for cash and medical assistance which states have heretofore enjoyed.
Then Secretary of Health, Education and Welfare Abraham Ribicoff announced a comprehensive nine-point program on February 3, 19
61. Its objects included providing funds for refugee resettle ment, financial assistance to meet the basic maintenance require ments of the refugees, providing essential health services courses, distributing surplus food, and making financial assist ance ava i lable for the care of unaccompanied children assisting in the establishment of language and skill training I The program thus emphasized providing for the Cubans' immedi ate needs 'and finding them employment as quickly as possible conjunction with this, t he government carried out a large-scale relocation program, finding positions around the country for those Cubans who were unable to find work in Miami's glutted labor market. By 1980, a total of 301,732 refugees, or three out of every five registering wi t h the Center, had been moved out of Miami under this program In A difficult problem confronted by the Refugee Center was that of unaccompanied children arriving in increasing numbers during the Sixties. Between 13,000 and 15,000 arrived altogether and alt h ough most went to live with friends or relatives, thousands were homeless. On February 21, 1961, the Unaccompanied Cuban Refugee Children's Program was created to place these arrivals in foster homes. Statistics compiled in 1967 indicate that as of that y e ar 8,331 children had been cared for through the program with the peak occurring in October 1962, when 4,100 children were receiving foster care. The problem, however, proved to be only temporary, for the parents of most eventually found means to escape f rom Cuba. Thus, by 1965 only 1,448 children remained in the program, and two years later the number had been further reduced to 375.
OVERCOMING EDUCATION TROUBLES The new arrivals in Miami faced significant hurdles in finding employment. There was an obvio us language barrier, and many had skills which could not be readily transferred to the American economy. Others lacked the American educational degrees or state licenses necessary for.them to carry out their previous occupation. In this regard, profession a ls were especially hard hit; most found that their foreign university training received virtually no recognition in the United States. Their problems were compounded by.the requirement of at least half the states that lawyers, medical professionals, archi t ects and public school teachers hold citizenship in order to practice. 5 Attempts were made to address this problem. One had its beginning in Iowa in 1961, when a need to increase the number of Spanish teachers made officials seek a formula whereby the Cu b an arrivals could be employed. By this time, a substantial talent pool existed comprised of both experienced teachers and highly educated lawyers and other professionals who could carry out classroom functions. Under the law, however, all needed three yea r s of coursework to earn a state teaching license A program was created under which the candidates chosen received a temporary teaching certificate after a year's intensive training, following which they took the balance of coursework needed for a permanen t certificate over the ensuing three years while also working full time made available. According to a pamphlet published by the Refugee Program A loan of $1,000 per student was Since most of the Cubans were middle-aged and had children to support, even wi t h the help of the loan many of them had to supplement Nevertheless, they were undaunted either by the hard work ahead or by the prospect of Iowa winters which, to people who have never livedlin a cold climate, seemed quite formid able. their incomes by ta king part-time jobs.
By the fall of 1964, Cuban teachers were working in 38 Iowa counties. Seeing the potential of this program, Indiana estab lished a similar project involving 53 Cuban teacher trainees. At about the same time, a program with similar objectives was estab lished in Miami itself, where officials Itwho had at first been concerned tkat an influx of Cubans might create an unemployment prgblem, wexe fast becoming even more concerned about the draining of Cuban talent from the Miami area. Seven programs were in operati on at the peak period of 1967, and in virtually all.regions of the country there was at least one institution of higher learning at which Cuban refugees were being trained and recruited for teaching jobs.
In 1968 169 Cubans who had participated in the earl y train ing programs provided follow-up information on their development. The information indicated that all but six percent had remained in the teaching profession, and that ninety percent had obtained permanent teaching certificates or licenses to teach By 1961, there were nearly 700 exiled Cuban physicians in the U.S. who, because of state licensing requirements affecting 1. Professional Manpower: A New Way to Meet the Need, U.S. Cuban Refugee Program, Social Rehabilitation Service, Department of Health , Education and Welfare, p. 2 2. Ibid. p. 3 6 3 foreigners not trained in the U.S found themselves, as one expressed it, "free to do almost anything except practice medicine."
Their first hurdle was to pass the Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Gr aduates Examination; and because of the need in the U.S. for qualified physicians, a three-month refresher course was established at the University of Miami that year combining English training with a subject matter review. In conjunction with this, a loa n fund was established which lent 266 Cuban physicians $137,500 while in operation. These semi-annual courses which by 1967 had assisted 2,393 Cubans, have now become a perma nent addition to the University of Miami curriculum.
The refresher courses .have made an additional contribution not foreseen at the time of their creation As early as 1965, a substantial number of non-Cuban doctors began to enroll; by 1977 2117 doctors, representing forty-one, primarily Spanish-speaking nations of the world, had atte n ded. Some of these graduates are now among the leading physicians in their countries, both in the academic field and that of practical medicine OVERVIEW OF REFUGEE PROGRAM By early 1980, a total of 486,000 Cubans had registered with the refugee program, 1 5 3,534 of them during the first year and a half of operations (it should be noted that about twenty-five percent of the exiles did not turn to the government for assistance at any point Total costs for the program have come to just under $1.5 billion. Refu g ee assistance peaked in 1973, when the program spent $143.7 million and, prior to the Mariel exodus, it had been estimated that fiscal year 1981 needs would be for no more than $45 million The budget then declined annually TEE CUBAN SUCCESS STORY The deve l opment of the Cuban exile community since the-early days-of dependence on government assistance is generally regarded as a success story,with good reason. Bank presidents and wealthy businessmen have evolved from immigrants owning nothing but the clothes on their backs, and refugees who started at the very bottom of a particular occupation have frequently risen to the top through dedication and hard work.
Like members of national groups who migrated to the U.S. in previous decades, Cubans were imbued with a high degree of motiva tion. According to sociologist Dr. Juan Clark, their intense determination is not totally coincidental It would have been 3. Rafael A. Penalver Post Graduate Program for Cuban Refugee Physicians ,I The Journal of the Florida Me,dic a l Association, Historical Issue Medicine and the Cuban Physician Vol. 64, No. 81, August 1977, p. 551. 7 difficult for them to leave the island that enqled them to overcome the harsh regime without s deterrents uch a motivation imposed by the The most dra m atic indication of the,prosperity Cubans have achieved over only twenty years is the fact that there are now approximately two hundred millionaires within the Cuban community in Miami, the city with the largest Cuban population. Other statistics reveal th e solid, if less spectacular, affluence which the average Cuban has attained. By 1970, it could be reported that It44% of Cubans in Miami own their own homes; 90% of the families possess at least one automobile; 37 two or more; radios and. televisions are- i n practically all homes; and 60% have air conditioning. At least 25% of the Cuban families travel during their vgcations, either within the United States or to a foreign land Four years later, the number of Cubans owning their own homes had risen to seyen ty percent.
The,,income of Cubans in Miami, while not yet up to the level of the American whites, has risen substantially. The 1967 median family income for Miami Cubans of $5,244 rose a dramatic thirty- seven percent to $7,200 by 19
70. In A977, it had risen to $14,000, and two years later, it had reached a high of $15,3
00. Sixty-nine percent of families earned over $12,000 and twenty-four percent over $15,000.
The 1977 earning power of Cubans was contrasted with that of other Hispanics and of the popu lation at large by Morris J. Newman, a Department of Labor statistician, in a 1978 study. At that time, the median income for all U.S. families was $16,009 while that for Cubans was $14,0
00. Mexicans followed with $12,000 blacks were next with an income of $9,563; and Puerto Ricans earned $7,9
72. The per capita income for Cubans, moreover, is closer to .the average per capita income for all Americans than the figures indicate, since for statistical purposes the Cuban family is considered to include 3.6 members, but the white American family 2.5 members Newman also analyzed Cuban employment patterns, finding that their employment record now comes close to matching that of all Americans, and far outdistances those of other Hispanic groups in the U.S.
At a time when.the jobless rate for all white workers in the U.S. was 6.2 percent, that for black workers 13.1 percent, and for the total Hispanic population 10.1 percent, that for the Cubans was 8.8 percent. Part of this,.moreover, may be due to 4. Juan H. C lark Why? The Cuban Exodus Union of Cubans in Exile, 1977 5. Harvey Rosenhouse The Exodus and Success of Cubans Vision (Vol. 38, p. 27.
No. 5 March 13, 1970 (page 2 of reprint). the Cubans' unusually high participation in the labor force their 64.1 percent partjcipation is actually slightly higher. than the 62.3 percent participation among the overall working-age U.S population.
Statistics for 1978 and 1979 continue to bear out the pattern of unemployment. In 1978, unemployment for American-born whites in Miami was 5.8 percent, for blacks 10.2 percent and for Hispanics 6.2 percent; in 1979 4.9 percent of the whites, 9.3 percent o f the blacks and 5.2 percent of the Hispanics were unemployed In examining the employment of Hispanics by occupation Newman found a pattern recuring. The participation of Cubans in the higher paid professions requiring more training fell slightly behind th e U.S. average, but was substantially ahead of that of other Hispanic groups. Indeed, the likelihood of a Cuban holding a position from the ''professional or technical" category was about forty percent higher than for the average Hispanic. The probability of his holding a managerial position was even higher.
That the Cubans have reached their current economic level is impressive considering the large numbers who never totally overcame their initial barriers of language and their lack of educational credenti als which would be officially recognized in the United States A study conducted in 1974 indicated that 41.93 percent of the college graduates sampled were working as sales persons.
By comparison, almost the ,same percentage of individuals with a high school education (50 percent) held jobs in that category.
Of the college graduates, only 16.12 percent held professional positions, and 12.9 percent were employed as elementary and high schoo1,teachers. In spite of the programs providing for English training, 55 percent of the respondents felt they did not have sufficient knowledge of the English language, and 25 percent felt they did not have a better job because of their lack of English The greatest waste of human capital occurred in the category of middle- a ged professionals who, because of families to support found it impossible to leave the job market for the years of study required to earn a U.S. license to practice their former careers. difficulty in overcoming the language barrier, given the inverse rel a tionship between age and ability to learn a new language This age group was also the one with the greatest The success which Cubans have attained overall is worth revjewing in some detail. In 1967, Miami Cubans owned 919 busi nesses; this number had incre ased to 8,000 in 1976 and to 18,000 by 19
80. In 1978, it was reported that they ran 230 Latino restaurants, thirty furniture factories, twenty garment plants, a shoe factory employing 3,000 and about 30 transplanted cigar factories. Cubans currently also own over sixty car dealerships more than 500 supermarkets, over 250 drugstores, and they now own or operate eighty percent of all service stations in the Miami area.
By 1971, Cubans were putting up about thirty percent of all the construction in the city, including a $35 million, 40-story office building designed to-be the tallest structure in Florida.
Cubans now make up seventy-five percent of all construction workers as well, an increase of fifteen percent in the last two years alone.
One area in which the success of Cubans has been conspicuous is banking. By 1978, they controlled 14 of 67 local commercial banks; one of these, the Continental National, saw its 1974 level of $2 million in deposits grow to $29 million within four years In 1971, there wer e three bank presidents, twenty-one vice pres.1 dents and five hundred offkers of Cuban origin; by 1980, the number of bank presidents alone had grown to sixteen.
The pattern of success has been repeated in other parts of the country In 1971, it was estima ted that of the almost 5,000 Cubans living in Atlanta, Georgia, about one hundred were in various businesses, and about fifty percent of the adults held positions as college or university professors, doctors, engineers accountants or business executives. B y that time, some 3,000 Cubans taught in colleges and universities around the country THE MEDICAL PROFESSION Cuban doctors as a group have been particularly successful and because they arrived in this country at the time of an increas ing shortage of phys icians, their contribution takes on a special dimension care to individuals who would otherwise have been unassisted. An example of this occurred in Milledgeville State Hospital, where Cubans at one time made up sixty percent of the resident physicians.
In 1971, sixty-eight percent of the 113 doctors on the staff were Cubans, as were five of the ten directors, each of whom headed units with seven hundred to a thousand patients. Cuban Refugee Program Director Howard Palmatier declared at the time, "This hos p ital would not be.open.today were it not for.the services of Cuban physicians Many are now employed throughout the country providing I dread to think of the many hundreds of citizens who would be without medical attention in that situation. I, 6 In 1971, U .S. News and World Report reported that whole hospitals were staffed by Cuban doctors, citing as a qrime example the three hundred bed Pan-American Hospital in Miami. By 1973 Cubans ran about a dozen private clinics in Miami alone, a number which stood at fifteen by the end of the decade. At present there are estimated'to be 3,500 practicing Cuban physicians in Miami alone, with up to another 2,000 Cubans being in the process 6. Penalver, pp. 551-552 7 Flight from Cuba Castro's Loss is U.S. Gain," U.S. New s ti World Report May 31, 1971, p. 74 10 of preparing .for the Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates Examination or going through medical school In October 1960, eighty-seven Cuban doctors founded the Cuban Medical Association in Exile, whic h received the official recognition of the AMA the following year. By 1977, the 3,070 member association was'officially recognized by medical associa tions throughout Latin America, and by schools of medicine research centers and governments both in the Un ited States and throughout the Western Hemisphere.
While the contribution of Cuban physicians in saving lives cannot be tabulated in dollars and cents, it is possible to measure the savings to Americans in medical training costs. Dr.
Juan Clark did this i n the early seventies, at a time when he estimated there were 3,100 practicing Cuban physicians in the United States Bearing in mind that the cost of medical school exclusive of previous education, ranges between $64,000 and 104,000 for a four-year course , the contribution to this country by this group of Cubans coNld be estimated conservatively between 198.4 to $322.4 million. I Many of the .Cuban doctors, moreover, have distinguished themselves within their profession. According to Dr. Emanuel M Papper, D ean of the University of Miami School of Medicine, the graduates of the refresher course not content with attaining minimum licensure requirements, have continued their studies and training. All American medical specialty boards now number Cubans among th eir members. Cuban physicians appear as authors in the best medical journals and as lec5urers at almost every medical meeting of the last ten years.'I WELFARE AND TEE CUBAN COMMUNITY As might be inferred from the facts outlined thus far,.
Cubans have relied on their own labor for sustenance, and few have depended on government assistance for any length of time.
While in 1963, forty-five percent of Cubans were receiving govern ment aid, this situation changed quickly. Two years later Howard Palmatier reported that less than five percent of the resettled refugees ever required welfare assistance, and then only for short periods of time. In Miami itself, the caseload had been reduced by 1965 to 8,000 cases involving 14,000 people many of them aged, physically handicapped, or women with young children. It also included some 1,500 cases of men who with basic training i n English and job skills- could be expected 8. Juan M. Clark, The Exodus from Revolutionary Cuba (1959-1974 A Sociolo gical Analysis, Doctoral Dissertation, University of Florida, 1975, p 143 9. Penalver, p. 553 11 sQon to leave the rolls. By 1979 it was reported that eighty percent of the Cubans who remained on the rolls were over sixty years of' age.
Relatively few cases of Cubans becoming chronically dependent on government assistance have been reported and, as a 1964 program proved, remedial steps tend to be highly effective As the stream of refugees slowed down, the Refugee Center developed a program focusing on 3,800 unskilled female heads of households who subsisted in the Miami slums on a $100 monthly government payment Under "Training for Ingepend e nce, It subsequent receipt of these women's welfare checks was made contingent on their attend ing job training sessions, usually in the operation of power sewing machines. Child care services were provided for the women's dependents. Of the 3,800 women a s ked to take part, about three-fourths did so, and about eighty percent of those enrolled in the first courses found steady work immediately after finishing training A Cuban Refugee Program pamphlet describes the continu ing success of the program Whereas i n mid-1964, when the project was launched and when there were 3,800 female heads of families who were dependent upon public assistance, in January 1968, after new arrivals had been coming in at the rate of 200 a day for almost two years, only 341 female h e ads of families were receiving public assistance A few have prospects for resettle ment or jobs Some will no doubt be enrolled later; most will be found to have other plans which makes enrollment unnecessary 1) 10 In 1971, David Caveda, a Cuban leader and manufacturers representative in Columbus, Ohio, summed up his countrymen's philosophy toward government assistance, IrI know of only three Cuban families on welfare, all of them aged. There are no able bodied Cubans on welfare. We belong to a society wher e people take care of one another. Therelfs a pattern the ones, estab lished here help the newcomers available, but such information as exists indicates that Cubans have not created a social problem in this reqard. In 1971, Miami Comprehensive statistics o n criminality by Cubans are not Police Chief Bernard Garmire told Business Week that Cubans accounted for only five or six percent of the crime in the city although composing thirty percent of the population. On the same point, Howard Palmatier stated, ItI ' ve had an opportunity to speak with civic leaders, with church leaders, and by and large they have only good things to say about the refugees that they are 10. "Training for Independence U. S. Cuban Refugee Program, Social and Rehabilitation 'Service, Dep a rtment of Health, Education and Welfare, p. 18 A New Approach to the Problems of Dependency 11. "Flight from Cuba Castro's Loss is U.S. Cain p. 76. 12 ambitious, have strong family ties, and do not show up aficrime statistics, something of which we are es p ecially proud.Il Interviewed in 1973 by the National Geographic, Chief Garmire indicated that the Cubans' record remained,good. As Cubans made up a third of the city's population in theory, they should produce about a third of our crime. Yet they account- f or only ten to twelve percent of criminal arrests. Much of the crime in Little Havanfiis committed by outsiders who come in and victimize the Cubans.Il According to Officer Robert Rogers Yee, also interviewed by National Geographic If [T] hq, ones in thei r twenties and thirties or older, they're very law abiding, very respectful of the uniform.
No Cuban has ever called me 'pig' or 'fuzz I've had them come up and say, 'Anything I can do to help, you can depend on me.
And they really mean it1 I think many o f them would risk their lives for a policeman.ll This respect for the law is similarly reflected in the conduct of young people in school. According to Juan Clark I [T]he crime rate among the young Cubans appears to- be. dispropor tionately inferior to th e ir corresponding percentages within the total population. Thus the proportion of Spanish youngsters involved in school-related crimes constituted only seven percent 11 15 of the total offender population in 1975 when this ethnic group represented more tha n thirty percent of the entire school body.
It was reported in 1970 that 'Ithe only aspect in which the Cubans are worse than the native Miami population is in 'khat pertaining to traffic violations An aggressive driving style and a tendency to abuse the u se of the horn tends to make Cubans receifg a substantial amount of fines. But even this is improv ing.
ACADEMIC ACHIEVEMENT The performance of Cuban children in school has generally been above average, a fact which Juan Clark attributes to the values pro moted in their home environment The high motivation of the elders is reflected on the young by the desire, within these, to achieve the highest possible level of education. Thus 12 How the Immigrants Made It Business Week, May 1, 1979 (page 2 of 13. Edwar d J. Linehan Cuba's Exiles Bring New Life to Miami National 14 Ibid p. 81 15. Clark Why? The Cuban Exodus p. 31 16. Rosenhouse, p. 3. reprint Geographic, July, 1973, p. 80 41 13 the high proportion of young Cubans attending colleges and univer sities is no ti??able not only in Florida, but also in other universities.
The initial concern among Miamians that the wave of refugee children would lower the educational standards of Dade Country proved groundless It was found that within 1.5 years children became mo re proficient in English, and in 1971 Paul W. Bell executive director of instruction for the countyIs school system declared By and large, Cuban kids have had more of a positive than a negative impact. The concern of many that academic stan dards would dr o p drastically&ecause the Cubans didn't speak English never materialized By early 1980 Hispanic youngsters made up a third of Dade CountyIs pupil population and according to a report issued two years earlier they score well abovfgother Dade students on Eng l ish and math achievement tests.II According to 1976 statistics, seventy-two percent of Cuban high school graduates went on to college. By 1971, 12,800 loans had been given to Cuban college students, and, reported U.S. News World Report, I'Congress recentl y heard testimony that of (these loans only 147 were gglinquent a performance which outstrips the national average. I According to statistics, moreover, Cubans placed less of a burden on the public school system than was originally expected.
They have a gr eater tendency to send their children to private schools, and by the late Seventies they had started about thirty of their own Many Cuban students have excelled in scholastics or school athletics. In 1979 it was reported that 'I[e]ven the most obsti nate n atives of Miami are proud of Carlos Alvarez, a University of Florida football player who occupies a prominent place in the North American sports scene. Many other Cuban high schoolkoys are football stars. The most outstanding Florida student last year was Rafael Penalver, a Cuban. And the student who received the honor of addressing the Catholic University2pf Washington D.C at the end of the year was also a Cuban. If IMPACT ON MIAMI As early as 1962, the Saturday Evehinq Post voiced a concern in relation t o the first wave of Cubans that is being repeated 17. Clark Why? The Cuban Exodus p. 27 18. "How the Immigrants Hade It p. 2 19 Hispanic Americans, Soon: The Biggest Minority Time, October 16 1978, p. 51 20. "Flight from Cuba Castro's Loss Is U.S. Gain p. 7 7 21. Rosenhouse, p. 2 14 now with regard to the 1980'exiles. It worried that "Miami is a tourist center, and its economy is unable to accommodate the heavy flaw of refugees Of the.75,000 in the Miami area, about 27,000 with dependents it would come to 54 , 000) are unemployed 122 Because of current concerns that the 1980 exiles will place an intolerable strain on Miami's job. market and the resources of the Florida government and that they will become one more burden on the shoulders of hard-pressed America n taxpayers it is- important to analyze the effect Cubans have had on the city of Miami i Exactly how many Cubans live there, no one knows. Some experts place the figure as of late 1979 as high as 550,000 and even 600,0
00. Cubans make up an estimated 85 percent of Dade Countyls Hispanic population, which in turn comprises at least 40 percent of the country's total population.
Analysts agree that, far from placing a permanent burden on the city, this large bloc of newcomers has transformed its economic structure in the process of improving its own collective fortune.
Before 1959, Miami's sluggish economy was almost totally dependent on the tourist trade, with its volatile ups and downs, and its lopsided seasonal cycles. In the past twenty years tourism has been strengthened further and expanded to a year-round business and important new sources of employment and revenue have come into being.
Miami as a direct result of its transformation, by virtue of the very presence'of the Cubans, into what has been ter med 'Ithe new capital city of Latin America.It An unprecedented prosperity has been created in Attracted by the Hispanic atmosphere of the city, Latin American tourists flock to Miami in increasing numbers. By 1978 over 5 million came annually, and this n u mber has continued to grow at a current rate of 15 percent a year. The contribution of these tourists to the economy, moreover, is higher than that of American visitors, for in 1978 it was estimated that the average Latin tourist spent about $1,000, while U.S. and Canadian visitors only spent $4
08. Unlike Americans, furthermore, Latins are undeterred by Miami s hot humid summers, and come all year round.
The wealthier Latins are giving an addition al boost to the economy by investing in real estate. In 1978 the president of the largest real estate firm in the South estimated that sixty percent of the luxury condominiums on Brickell Avenue in Key Biscayne, and about thirty percent of those on Miami B each were being bought by Latins. By 1980, their annual investment in this field probably amounts to over $1 billion annually 22 Our Refugees from Castroland Saturday Evening Post, June 16, 1962 15 The I'LatinizationI' of Miami has spurred and diversified its economy in other ways as well. Banking is a dramatic example.
International banking has evolved from a modest business to one of such magnitude that by 1978 only New York had more banks specializing in international transactions. Currently, fifteen fo reign banks have branches in the city, and another fifteen local banks (an increase of four over the last two years) provide facilities similar to those offered by foreign banks under the Edge Act Gradually Miami has become a seat for international corpor a tions as well. By 1971, 33 American companies had set up their Latin American trade headquarters in the Miami suburb of Coral Gables. Seven years later, this number had grown to 76, and by 1980, 90 multinational corporations had opened their Latin Ameri c an headquarters in Miami. According to the Washinqton Post Most of the firms made the move after consider ing a half dozen or more Latin American cities. Coral Gables, for instance, beat out Mexico City, Bogota, Caracas, San Juan Buenos Aires, Sao Paolo a n d Rio when E.I. du Pont deNemours was picking a new Latin head quarters last year The company decided it was simply faster to telephone, fly and mail to South America from MiBi than from any South American country. I In all, international trade generated $ 4 billion in state income by 1978, and has led to the creation of 167,000 jobs In an interview with columnist Joseph Kraft, Florida governor Bob Graham summed up the effect Cubans have had in turning Miami into an international business center. was born i n Miami in 1936, and'I grew up in Miami, and I remember that the city slogan was 'Gateway to South America In fact we were the gateway for South Georgia slogan a reality."
BuZqthe advent of the Cuban refugees made the The presence of Cubans has diversified and expanded the economy of Miami in other ways as well. 25,000 Cuban workers form the backbone for a garment industry which has grown to be the third largest in the United States. South Florida agricul ture has also been effected by the advent of Cubans , according to Juan Clark 23. Bill Peterson Miami: Cuba's Uprooted Elite Creating a New Latin.Capita1,"
Washinqton Post, December 3, 1978, p. A21 24. Joseph Kraft, "New Status for Refugee-Swollen Florida," Los Angeles Times May 14, 1980. 16 As the Cuban po pulation increased, a great demand for their typical staples such as ycca, boniato and 'malanga developed Eventually Cuban farmers began to cultivate them, and hundreds of acres have been planted resulting in the possibility of exporting these products no w . The sugar industry has been the one gaining the most with the exper- tise in this field introduced by the refugees. Hundreds of Cubans have significantly contri buted to this industry. Most of the sugar mills in the South Florida area...are practi cally run by Cubans also been influenceasin the same form, but at a lesser magnitude.
The cattle sector has Some statistics demonstrated in a specially dramatic way the increase of capital in Miami. For example, the total assets of savings and loans came to just under $3 million in 19
70. Eight years later, this had increased to over $12.6 billion. Statistics from commercial banks tell a similar story: their deposits grew during the same eight-year period from $3.2 billion to $7 billion Miami has benefited from the presence of Cubans in other ways as well. One example is the unofficial "urban renewal program which this group has carried out. In 1960, the center of Miami was submerged in fgonomic decadence1# and its buildings deteriorating rapidly. I' Cubans beg a n concentrating in a decaying residential section close to Downtown Miamill which later came to be 'known as Little Havana, and which had the advan tage of being a low rental area with many closed stores. Juan Clark states Cubans took advantage of the (cl o sed stores and gradually began to settle here while the Anglo population was moving further away into the suburbs. An informal urban renewal program began to take place along Eighth Street and its vicinity as Cubans developed roots, by improving and remod e ling the house they were gradually purchasing. Eventually the exiles began moving into Hialeah, West Chester and other suburban areas while Little Havana gained more population from the new arrivals. Further uplifting actually occurred here through the re p lacement of many of2fhe old housing units by brand new ones 25. Clark, Why? The' Cuban Exodus p. 29 26. Rosenhouse, p. 2 27. Clark Khy? The Cuban Exodus pp. 29-30 17 By 1980, the Christian Science Monitor stated flatly, "There are no Cuban ROLE IN POLITIC S As the status of Cubans shifted from that of presumably temporary exiles in.the U.S. to that of permanent inhabitants their attitude toward this country .has changed accordingly An increasing number is adopting American citizenship, and becoming involved in the political process as well. While in 1970 only 10 percent of the Cubans in Miami were American citizens, by 1980 177,000 were citizens and additional 320,000 had become perma nent resident aliens, a preliminary step to citizenship. In a recent surve y of non-citizens, futhermore, 86.4 percent indicated they intended to become citizens. Their participation in elections moreover, is an unusually high 70 percent of registered voters.
Already the mayor of Miami, Maurice Ferre, is a Latin, the chairman of the State Democratic Party and two city council members of the Miami suburb of Hialeah are Cubans, and the number of Cuban elected officials is expected to increase sharply over the next decade.
Cubans are taking an increasingly prominent role in-civic causes. Their interest grew slowly at first for several reasons.
Most importantly they initially regarded their stay in the U.S. as temporary, and saw themselves as visitors in the community rather than members. At the same time, during the difficult transi tion of their first years in exile, their efforts were too absorbed in financing the necessities of life to make it possible for them to contribute either time or money to civic activities.
In the last decade, this has changed substantially. Cubans are he avily involved in such fund-raising organizations as the Heart Fund, the March of Dimes, United Fund and Boy and Girl Scouts. They have enriched the cultural life of the city by the establishment of a light opera company, two ballet companies, six theater s and many libraries and art galleries.
When the new wave of exiles arrived in Key West, Cubans were the first to help, contributing over $2 million in food and clothing alone within the first month. They contributed thousands of hours in services, providi ng the new exiles with health and legal services, and helping them with the red tape of the immigra tion process. In response to this massive mobilization of assist ance, a White House aide declared, don't know of any other community in the country that h a s the resources, the motiygtion and the organization to do what the Cuban-Americans did 28. Geoffrey Godsell The Cubans Christian Science Monitor, April 30 29. Kraft New Status for Refugee-Swollen Florida 1980, p. 12 18 The population of the Miama area ha s almost doubled in the last twenty years from its 1960 base of one million people, and its civilian labor force has increased from 408,300 to 721,455 as of March 19
80. Significantly, the creation of jobs has roughly kept pace In 1960 there were 381,000 jobs being filled; this had grown to 639,800 by 1978, at a time when there was a labor force of 688,000.
Even if the Latin atmosphere brought to Miami by the Cuban's had not attracted outside capital it is inevitable that their presence in and of itself wo uld have created jobs. Meeting the consumer needs of hundreds of thousands of new residents necessar ily causes the economy to eApand and this in turn creates jobs for those new residents In the specific case of the Cubans, having a language and a cultura l orientation different from that of Americans, it was almost inevitable that a complex infra-structure, creating thousands of jobs, should develop to provide the community with goods and services carrying a distinct ethnic flavor. The hundreds of restaura n ts and grocery stores specializing in Cuban foods, and the flourishing Spanish language communications media (one televi sion station, six 'radio stations, and many newspapers) are only two examples An economic structure has evolved coverins all Dhases of human' activity, and at least theoretically allowing a person to live out his whole life without going outside the Cuban community A child could be brought into the world by a Cuban doctor in a Cuban-owned clinic, receive his education in a Cuban-run scho o l spend his adult life working in a Cuban enterprise and be buried by a Cuban funeral home The size of this self-contained structure is hard to estimate but an idea of its scope can be gathered from a recent survey which indicated that 33.6 percent af Cub a ns speak only Spanish at work, and an additional 22.6 percent speak l'mostlyll Spanish While .it can be argued that none of this activity is of any special benefit to American-born Miamians, it must be remembered that the tax revenues from the Cuban econo mic structure assist all residents of the city.
Substantial concern exists now about the burden which the 1980 Cuban exiles will place on Miami's economy. While the existence of an immediate strain, aggravated by the consequences of the recession afflicting the whole country, cannot be denied there is e very reason for long-term optimism If the, history of the past twenty years is any guide, the very presence of these new residents will create an expansion of the job market, and the labor force they create will attract yet new capital and new industries T he exiles of twenty years ago proved wrong the critics who feared that their presence would cause Miami's economy to collapse; there is every reason to think that this worry will once more be proved groundless. 19 THE TAX BURDEN In assessing the developme n t of the Cuban community, the single most controversial point is determining the exact extent to which its members have been an asset or a burden to this country. At a time when hard-pressed American taxpayers are being asked to provide funds for the assi stance of a new wave of refugees, the question is an entirely legitimate one.
Many contributions by the Cubans on which it is difficult to place a price tag have already been discussed. One purely quanti tative method of determining their financial contrib ution is by establishing the amount they have paid in taxes An absolute amount is difficult to establish, as no statistics are available on the specific point. Nevertheless, with such figures as exist a rough calculation can be made. Assuming a Cuban popu l ation in Miami of 400,000 (which is probably an under count and family income of $14,000 for 1977 14,800 for 1978 and $15,300 for 1979, and a federal income tax rate of twenty-five percent, federal income tax payments for those three years would be as fol lows 390 million for 1977; $410 million for 1978; and 425 million for 19
79. The three figures total $1.225 billion.
Even on the basis of what is probably a population undercount and a very modest tax base, and without the inclusion of other revenue gener ating factors such as real estate, sales and corporate taxes, new tourist dollars from abroad, or even the inclusion of the other 300,000 Cubans living in the United States, it is clear that in the last three years alone the Cubans living in Miami returne d to the government almost the entire amount spent on their assistance of the whole community over the last twenty years. So while it is difficult to estimate the exact amount contributed by Cubans to the U.S. government, this rough calcula tion makes clea r that the figure is quite high; Miami's Mayor Maurice Ferre has calculated, in fact, that the total amount is approximately five times higher than the total aid Cubans have received CONCLUSION Concerns about the ability of the United States to absorb immi g rants, and about the sheer desirability of admitting large numbers of foreign nationals in the country, are nothing new, and in fact predate the.twentieth century. Yet'the pattern established earlier of immigrants being absorbed into American society with in a relatively short period of time seems to have held true in modern times as well The Indochinese migration in 1975 serves as a good example.
When large numbers of Vietnamese, Cambodians and Laotians first arrived, there was considerable worry about the ir becoming a burdlen. Yet within two years only eleven percent of refugee 20 families were totally dependent on welfare, and by 1978, 93.1 percent of the Indochinese in the labor force actually held jobs.
Although close to.375,000 Indochinese refugees ha ve arrived since 1975, and indeed continue to enter the U.S. at the rate of 14,000 per month, there have been no widespread reports of adjustment problems since the initial transition periods tion of large numbers of immigrants may be due to their failure to understand the total immigration picture. While refugee waves that number in the hundreds of thousands receive widespread publicity, a far larger number of immigrants are quietly admitted to the country annually of 1978 (the most current figures availa ble), over four million foreign nationals came to the U.S. under this legal classification.
If it is possible for our economy to absorb such large numbers of newcomers and this has manifestly, been the case it is no wonder that much smaller groups who ente r under a different legal classification are absorbed as well Americans' periodic surprise at the relatively easy assimila I.n the ten-year period through the end When Cuban refugees began arriving on U.S. shores in 1959 many Americans had concerns simila r to those being expressed in 19
80. There were worries about the ability of the American economy to absorb the newcomers, and about their taking jobs away from native Americans. General concerns existed about how they would adapt, and about how they would affect the general tenor of life in those areas where they congregated left the welfare rolls after an initial period of receiving modest government assistance, accepting willingly whatever jobs were available, and in many cases subsequently rose to the t op of their occupational ladder. Their very presence has had the effect of creating jobs, especially in Miami, and the Latin flavor they brought to the city led to an unprecedented diversi fication of its ec.onomic base Experts agree that the' worries wer e unnecessary. Cubans Measured by any standard, Cubans have contributed significant ly to the United States and have proved to be good citizens.
There is every reason to think that the pattern they established will be followed by their newly arrived fellow countrymen.
Prepared at the request of The Heritage Foundation by Sylvia Castellanos Miss Castellanos has been Research Director of the Senate Steering Committee for the past five years.