The Part About ‘Illegal’ That I Don’t Get (Part 2)


Immigrant children, Ellis Island, New York, 1908. (Credit: U.S. Government National Archives)

About 45% of the “illegal” immigrant population in the U.S. entered the country through “ports of entry” with legal documents, and then overstayed the terms of their permits. About 55% entered without undergoing immigration inspection.  The Cubans avidly sought—and seek—immigration inspection in order to be declared legal residents of the country.

The “special” status granted to Cuban immigrants has existed since the takeover of Cuba by the Castro Revolution. Cubans have repaid in kind by a steadfast allegiance to US right-wing agendas through the last 50 years. In 1961 they answered the siren call of the CIA to join an expeditionary force that would topple the Castro regime—and then were abandoned by the Kennedy administration on the beaches of the Bay of Pigs. The US barely avoided nuclear war with the Soviet Union over Cuba in 1962. Cubans participated in the US war against North Vietnam and were instrumental in the pursuit and defeat of the guerrilla forces of Ché Guevara in Bolivia in 1967.

Do not forget that several of the Watergate burglars in 1972 were Cuban, and that one of the most fiercely disputed electoral counties (Miami-Dade) in the 2000 Bush vs. Gore presidential election is today (and was also then) largely Hispanic (65%) and Cuban-American (34%). 

Opponents of immigration want to close down the southern border, but you never hear them wanting to close down the Miami airport. Donald Trump calls illegal Mexican immigrants “rapists,” but no Republican candidates ever called Cubans “gangsters” during the crime wave caused by the Mariel boat lift of the 1980s.

In 2006 J.D. Hayworth, a Republican congressman for Arizona, published an alarmist book against “illegal” immigration in which he deplored the Latinization of Hartford, Connecticut:

In Hartford,… where 40 percent of the population is Hispanic (the largest concentration among major cities outside California, Texas, Colorado and Florida), Spanish has become the primary language of government and is essential in many other areas…. Spanish is also the main language used in hospitals and banks…. Do we want Hartford to be a “Latin city,” or an American city with a Latin flavor?[1]

What Hayworth did not write was that the majority of the Hispanic population of Hartford was made up of Puerto Ricans, who not only had been granted American citizenship since 1917, but also were residents of a “Latin” island of Spanish heritage that had been granted Commonwealth status within the Union.


Aerial view of the Little Havana neighborhood of Miami, Florida, 11 March 2013. (Credit: B137 / Wikimedia Commons)

If Puerto Rican Hartford is objectionable as a Latin city, what can be said about Immigrant Cuban Miami, which is totally bilingual, and which is in effect the most important—if unofficial—present day Latin American capital city of the Caribbean? Do you ever hear Republicans mention Miami when complaining about “Latin” cities, or when they carp about immigration, or when they gripe that English should be our official language?

I conclude that “illegal” is simply a person that our clown dynasty does not like and wishes to disenfranchise. A “legal” individual is someone they consider “like” themselves, and someone who for the time being, until the wind turns, they wish to accept within their framework of identity.

It just goes to show you about the law and the human race. It makes you want to shout what Sheriff Pat Garrett yelled out loud moments before he was gunned down by assailants in the open prairie in Sam Peckinpah’s Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid: “Goddamn law is ruining this country!”


[1] J.D. Hayworth with Joseph J. Eule, Whatever It Takes: Illegal Immigration, Border Security, and the War on Terror (Washington DC: Regnery Publishing, 2006), 54.


Portrait of Pat F. Garrett from The Story of the Outlaw by Emerson Hough, 1907. (Credit: Wikimedia Commons)


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