Lifting the travel ban not supported
Contacts: Mavis Anderson, Philip Schmidt; Latin America Working Group (202) 546-7010
Out of Touch House of Representatives Votes in Favor of Family Separation
“The House of Representatives got it wrong on Cuba travel policy,” said Mavis Anderson, Senior Associate for Cuba at the Latin America Working Group, a national coalition of religious, human rights and activist groups that follows Latin America. “Their vote to continue the separation of Cuban American families shows that they have lost touch with the will of the majority of Americans who favor ending travel restrictions.” Many of these same representatives voted for this amendment when it passed last year. “It just proves yet again that the congressional Republicans, led by hard-line Cuban Americans, are out of touch with the family values they love to talk about” said Anderson.
Anderson spoke in response to a vote on easing restrictions on Cuban American travel on Thursday afternoon.
The vote on Rep. Jim Davis’ amendment to the Transportation/Treasury/HUD appropriations bill was 211 against with 208 in favor.
“Members didn’t vote their conscience, which would have told them that separating families is wrong,” said Philip Schmidt, Associate at the Latin America Working Group. “The Bush Administration and its congressional allies have needlessly separated Cuban Americans from their families on the island in hopes that this will bring down the Cuban government. It’s ineffective and more to the point, it’s just plain cruel.”
The vote came after years of votes in favor of ending the travel ban in the House of Representatives, though those efforts were always thwarted by leadership, which stripped the language out behind closed doors in conference committee.
The vote also rejects the views of Cuban Americans, agriculture, business, humanitarian and religious organizations which supported easing the travel ban. Over 100 national organizations representing all of these sectors sent a letter to Congress days before the vote calling for an end to all travel restrictions.
“Today’s vote was shameful, and reinforces recent polls that show most Americans believe that Congress is out of touch with their opinions,” said Philip Schmidt. “Bowing to the extremists and the money they throw around, like the hard-line Cuban Americans, has polarized this Congress and left it unable to do the bidding of the moderate majority of Americans. Never would Americans support the idea of the U.S. government prohibiting family travel. Never.”
The current Bush Administration allows Cuban Americans to visit their family for two weeks once every three years. There are no exceptions for deaths, births, or any type of family emergency. The policy also prohibits travel to visit aunts, uncles, cousins, nieces, nephews, or even step-family.