SOUTH FLORIDA CUBAN-AMERICAN RETHINKING THE GOP: THREAT OR JUST TOUGH TALK?
For years, the Cuban-American vote has been loyally in the hands of the Republican Party, primarily based on the belief that the GOP would be tougher on the Fidel Castro regime and hopes that policies of Republican administrations would somehow eventually force Castro out of power.
But it's the Bush Administration's "wet feet, dry feet" immigration policy regarding Cubans seeking to escape the island nation for the USA that has angered the million-strong Cuban-American community, mainly based in South Florida. The idea is that those refugees who actually reach dry land would be allowed to remain; those who do not would be returned to Cuba. The policy is generally considered rather ambiguious and often applied unfairly.
Now, after a recent case where 15 Cubans who reached the partially demolished Seven Mile Bridge in the Keys were returned to their home nation (the reasonining was that since the bridge no longer touched land, they had "wet feet"), some leaders within the Cuban-American community are considering rethinking their loyalty to the Republicans and their candidates.
We'll have to see if it's just an idle threat, but it has the GOP concerned enough that Dubya responded by meeting with community leaders and advocates. Governor Bush and U.S. Senator Mel Martinez have announced their disagreement with the Coast Guard decision.