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Cuban privilege? FIU faces backlash over hosting author of new book

FIU faces backlash over hosting author of new book
FIU faces backlash over hosting author of new book 03:08

MIAMI - Florida International University is facing backlash for promoting the discussion of a new book that explores Cuban advantages in U.S. immigration law. 

A recently elected Miami-Dade commissioner is saying that the book is "anti-Cuban" and promotes hate. 

CBS4's Ivan Taylor spoke to the commissioner and reached out to the author of the book. 

FIU is reiterating they are not promoting the book called, "Cuban Privilege: The making of immigrant inequality in America," but their hosting the author is prompting controversy.

"I think the Cuban Research Institute should not be hosting an event of this sort," said Commissioner Kevin Moreno, who is not discounting Boston University professor Susan Eva Eckstein's right to discuss her book. He just thinks it shouldn't be done in South Florida.

Ivan asks, "Are you mad about the book and the author or are you mad with FIU?"

"What upsets me is that the Cuban Research Institute is sponsoring an event of this sort. I think it is offensive to our community and hundreds if not thousands in our community based on the calls that we receive are also insulted by this."

CBS4 contacted FIU asking for their reaction to Commissioner Moreno's comment, first on Monday, and again on Wednesday. 

We also reached out to the author, asking for a 10-minute interview via Zoom and both declined. 

Instead, they sent us statements. The author said she was tied up at her university, but she looks forward to talking about her book - which examines immigration policy since 1959. 

She also told us she makes no judgment about if the policies are appropriate. 

FIU told us, in part, that it's their responsibility to uphold freedom of expression and support open discussion of the issues - even the ones that may be controversial.

The discussion of the book was initially scheduled to be held in Coral Gables, FIU decided to hold it here and invite Orlando Gutierrez, spokesperson for the Cuban Democratic Directorate will participate - to bring a different point of view, and address repression in Cuba.

"I'm going to shy away from the word privilege, what I'm going to say is facts."

We asked immigration attorney John Pratt about the Cuban adjustment act. He told us this:

"If a Cuban national is admitted or paroled in the United States a year and one day later they can apply for a green card."

That same provision is not applicable to Venezuelans, Nicaraguans, Haitians or any other nationalities.

The attorney explains the Cuban Adjustment Act was created to address Fidel Castro's communism on the island. 

"If I sneak in, I cannot have access to the Cuban Adjustment Act."

Those Cubans have to apply for political asylum like any other immigrant.

Now, as far as the event to discuss the book, it will be held at FIU's Modesto Maidique campus on Friday, December 9, at 7 p.m.

Click here for more information on the book presentation. 

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