Congressman Rivera made the following statement at his Wednesday press conference where he announced his legislation to adjust the Cuban Adjustment Act:
"In 1966, the United States of America granted Cuban nationals one of the most benevolent immigration provisions ever granted to nationals of any country on the planet, what became known as the Cuban Adjustment Act.
"The Cuban Adjustment Act provides Cubans fleeing persecution in Cuba who arrive in the United States eligibility for permanent residency status after one year.
"In the history of America, only one other nationality has been granted this benefit -- Hungarians in 1956. The Cuban Adjustment Act is a precious gift to Cuban political refugees that must be preserved and protected. And should never be abused or manipulated.
"Unfortunately, abuse and manipulation is exactly what has occurred in recent years. Because of these abuses, and in order to preserve and protect the benefits of the Cuban Adjustment Act for future Cuban asylum seekers, the time has come to adjust the Cuban Adjustment Act.
"The fact is that in recent years it has become a common occurrence for Cubans to seek political asylum in the U.S. under the Cuban Adjustment Act; and after a year and a day immediately and repeatedly travel back to the persecuting country.
"Increasingly, Cuban-Americans are citing family reunification to justify travel that in reality more closely resembles common tourism and other unauthorized travel involving everything from plastic surgery to fifteens parties and weddings, to even sex tourism.
"In many cases, those Cubans travelling are also recipients of U.S. taxpayer-funded welfare programs such as Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, Food Stamps, public housing and cash assistance. In these cases, U.S. taxpayers are actually subsidizing travel to a country that has been designated a sponsor of terrorism by our own government.
"The original intent of the Cuban Adjustment Act was to provide residency status to Cuban refugees because they were not able to return to Cuba due to the political situation in Cuba in 1966.
"Nothing has changed in Cuba since 1966. The political situation remains the same today, with a communist totalitarian dictatorship in power that denies basic civil liberties and human rights to its people.
"The fact that Cubans avail themselves of the Cuban Adjustment Act citing political persecution, and then quickly travel back to the persecuting country, is a clear and blatant abuse of the law.
"If Cubans are able to travel back to the communist dictatorship then they should not have received the residency benefits associated with the Cuban Adjustment Act and they should lose that benefit immediately.
"My legislation simply says that any Cuban national who receives political asylum and residency under the Cuban Adjustment Act, and travels to Cuba while still a resident, will have their residency status revoked.
"By reforming the Cuban Adjustment Act to stop its abuses, we are ensuring the residency benefits will be there for all future asylum seekers. In other words, we must adjust the Cuban Adjustment Act in order to save the Cuban Adjustment Act.
"Recent statements by Cuban leaders and Cuban state media regarding the facilitating of Cuban-Americans travelling to Cuba make it abundantly clear that the regime is looking to this travel activity for its economic benefit.
"The Castro dictatorship is hoping for a life-saver with increased travel by Cuban-Americans. This legislation will hopefully throw them an anchor instead."