Cubans Retire to Florida – With Help From U.S. Taxpayers

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More Cubans are coming to Florida in their golden years to retire, able to tap U.S. government assistance even though they never lived or worked here.
The number of Cubans arriving over the age of 60 grew fivefold since 2010, according to state refugee data. At least 185 made the crossing in their 80s or 90s.
Unlike most other immigrants, Cubans qualify immediately for food stamps and Medicaid. If they are over 65 with little or no income, they also can collect a monthly check of up to $733 in Supplemental Security Income (SSI).

Cubans’ special status has enabled an increasing number of elderly to retire to the U.S. with taxpayer support. The number of Cubans immigrating after age 60 and eligible for refugee assistance in Florida has increased fivefold since 2010.

*Data is for fiscal years ending Sept. 30; 2015 data is through Aug. 31 only.

Source: Florida Department of Children and Families

“They’re getting cheap apartments, food stamps,” said Cuban-born attorney Pedro Fuentes-Cid of Tampa. “They tell their friends in Cuba, and they come over.”
The United States makes it possible under a humanitarian policy of treating Cubans who arrive as refugees. Elderly immigrants interviewed by the Sun Sentinel said they came primarily to be with family, met the aid qualifications and are grateful for the help.

Jose Angel Rodriguez and Elisa Diaz, both of Miami, immigrated from Cuba late in life.

Jose Angel Rodriguez immigrated at 81 to join his daughter. He now lives in Miami on food stamps, Medicaid and SSI. “It wasn’t that bad in Cuba,” he said. “But here, I’m better.”
Elisa Diaz came at 75 to be near her three children in the U.S. She lives in Miami in a subsidized apartment, gets food stamps and $700 a month in SSI. The benefits, she said, are much better than pensions in Cuba — about $7 a month. “I have an American flag in my house,” she said. “I’m happy. I want to be an American citizen.”

Cubans are eligible for government assistance for up to seven years after they arrive in the U.S., and longer if they become citizens…

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