Published July 1980 — Download PDF of the original newspaper column
Byrd's-Eye View By U.S. Senator Robert C. Byrd Responsible Refuge The United States has a tradition of granting refuge to oppressed people, but it cannot allow itself to become a dumping ground for common criminals. The recent influx of Cubans to our country, now numbering more than 100,000, is an indictment of the Castro regime. It is testimony to communism's heavy hand of repression. Unfortunately, this vast immigration of Cubans to the United States has strained normal processing procedures. The government, however, is endeavoring to resettle the refugees in an orderly fashion, having established refugee centers in various parts of the country to screen and process the Cubans. But the United States has no responsibility to give refuge to common criminals, whose activities jeopardize the entire Cuban resettlement effort. In fact, our government has a legal responsibility under our immigration laws to keep out criminal elements. In an apparent attempt to embarrass the United States, the Castro government unlocked its jails and put hardened criminals on boats bound for Florida. This criminal element, no doubt, is responsible for the sporadic violence that has occurred at refugee processing centers. The persons responsible for violence at these centers should be identified, arrested, and deported. Likewise, all common criminals identified in the screening process should be deported. Order must be maintained in the processing centers. The security of communities in the vicinity of these centers must be assured, as well as the security of those refugees who are not participating in the disturbances. For the Cuban resettlement effort to succeed, the criminal element must be thrown out. The American people must be reassured that our country is not opening its doors to common criminals.