Immigration debate taken to Washington D.C.

Last updated on: 8/8/2007 5:41:42 PM by Michelle Burdo

WASHINGTON D.C.: The fight against illegal immigration is heading to the nation's capitol, where a Cuban interest group is calling for the United States to end its 'wet-foot dry-foot' policy.

The Cuban interest group says if the American government granted all the visas they're supposed to, Cubans wouldn't be risking their lives to get to the United States through the Straits of Florida.

In the past four months, over 60 Cuban illegal immigrants battled the sea and set foot onto Southwest Florida shores.

Wednesday, a Cuban special interest group says these people would never have had to risk their lives if the U.S. kept up their end of the bargain.

"The U.S. government would not comply this fiscal year with a minimum of 20,000 visas for Cuban nationals," said Dagoberto Rodriguez, with the Cuban Interests Section.

Instead of handing out 20,000, they say the American government only granted about half that many.

They blame the State Department for blatantly disregarding the Migration Accord of 1994, which states they have to grant 20,000 visas every year.

They say because the U.S. not giving enough visas, Cuban nationals are risking their lives.

Rodriguez says the Cubans are enticed by America’s 'wet-foot dry-foot' policy, which says once immigrants step onto American soil - they're here to stay.

"There are people arriving on Florida shores and they're admitting those people in violation of agreement," said Rodriguez.

Officials with the State Department point right back to Havana, where they say the Cuban government is not letting the U.S. get essential supplies to the American Immigration Office there.

But Rodriguez says the U.S. needs to follow the rules so fewer immigrants wash up on Southwest Florida shores.

"Cuba will do the best for safe and orderly migration," said Rodriguez.

According to the Migration Accord, the U.S. has until September 30th to distribute 9,000 more visas. ... 955&z=3&p=