The benefits package makes the trip worth the risk.
Unlike other illegal aliens or refugees, Cubans who come to America illegally are given a free pass, due to the “Wet foot, dry foot” policy and the Cuban Adjustment Act. If they can just reach land, they can stay, and once they are in the US for a full year, they can receive permanent residence status.
That alone is a tremendous incentive to come to the US, but they also receive a very substantial benefit package, which they qualify for immediately upon arrival.
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People from Cuba immediately qualify for all the federal welfare benefits under the Refugee Resettlement Program, which includes TANF (cash welfare), SNAP (food stamps), and Medicaid. Cubans are also issued a work permit and a social security number.
Refugee social services are also available, including employment services, vocational training, education services, language instruction, and “other support services which encourage economic self-sufficiency and social adjustment” for their first five years.
In addition, many pro-immigrant non-profit organizations and refugee assistance programs through churches all receive federal grant money to provide local assistance and temporary housing.
The number of Cubans coming to the US is on pace to exceed 150,000 this year.
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