Utnif 2013 Politics Core-neg

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NEG Politics Core UTNIF 2013

UTNIF 2013 Politics Core-NEG

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***Cuba Politics Links***

1NC Cuba Terror Link

The plan sparks massive opposition from the Cuban-American Lobby—destroys Obama’s PC

Leogrande 4/11 William M. Leogrande, professor in the department of government at American University's School of Public Affairs in Washington, D.C., 2013, “The Cuba Lobby” The most powerful lobby in Washington isn't the NRA. It's the Castro-hating right wing that has Obama's bureaucrats terrified and inert, http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2013/04/11/the_cuba_lobby_jay_z?page=0,0

Jay-Z and Beyoncé are discovering that fame provides no immunity from the Cuba Lobby's animus for anyone who has the audacity to act as if Cuba is a normal country rather than the heart of darkness. After the pop icons' recent trip to the island to celebrate their wedding anniversary, the Cuba Lobby's congressional contingent -- Sen. Marco Rubio, Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, and Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart -- castigated the couple, demanding that they be investigated for violating the half-century-old U.S. embargo. (As it turned out, the trip had been authorized by the U.S. Treasury Department as a cultural exchange.) Still, celebrity trips to Cuba make headlines, and condemnation by the Cuba Lobby is always quick to follow. But what seems like a Hollywood sideshow is actually symptomatic of a much deeper and more dangerous problem -- a problem very much like the one that afflicted U.S. policy toward China in the 1950s and 1960s. Then, as now, an aggressive foreign-policy lobby was able to prevent rational debate about an anachronistic policy by intimidating anyone who dared challenge it. "A wasteland." That's how W. Averell Harriman described the State Department's Bureau of Far Eastern Affairs when he took it over for President John F. Kennedy in 1961. "It's a disaster area filled with human wreckage.… Some of them are so beaten down they can't be saved. Some of those you would want to save are just finished. They try and write a report and nothing comes out. It's a terrible thing." As David Halberstam recounts in The Best and the Brightest, the destruction of the State Department's expertise on Asia was the result of the China Lobby's decade-long assault on everyone, from professors to Foreign Service officers, who disputed the charge that communist sympathizers in the United States had "lost China." The China Lobby and its allies in Congress forced President Harry Truman and President Dwight Eisenhower to purge the State Department of its most senior and knowledgeable "China hands," while continuing to perpetuate the fiction that the Nationalist government in Taiwan was the "real" China, rather than the communist government on the mainland -- a policy stance that persisted long after the rest of the world had come to terms with Mao Zedong's victory. The result was a department that had little real knowledge about Asia and was terrified of straying from far-right orthodoxy. This state of affairs contributed directly to the debacle of Vietnam. Today, U.S. relations with Latin America are suffering from an equally irrational policy toward Cuba -- a policy designed in the 1960s to overthrow Fidel Castro's government and which, more than 50 years later, is no closer to success. Like U.S. policy toward China in the 1950s and 1960s, policy toward Cuba is frozen in place by a domestic political lobby, this one with roots in the electorally pivotal state of Florida. The Cuba Lobby combines the carrot of political money with the stick of political denunciation to keep wavering Congress members, government bureaucrats, and even presidents in line behind a policy that, as President Barack Obama himself admits, has failed for half a century and is supported by virtually no other countries. (The last time it came to a vote in the U.N. General Assembly, only Israel and the Pacific island of Palau sided with the United States.) Of course, the news at this point is not that a Cuba Lobby exists, but that it astonishingly lives on -- even during the presidency of Obama, who publicly vowed to pursue a new approach to Cuba, but whose policy has been stymied thus far. Like the China Lobby, the Cuba Lobby isn't one organization but a loose-knit conglomerate of exiles, sympathetic members of Congress, and nongovernmental organizations, some of which comprise a self-interested industry nourished by the flow of "democracy promotion" money from the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). And like its Sino-obsessed predecessor, the Cuba Lobby was launched at the instigation of conservative Republicans in government who needed outside backers to advance their partisan policy aims. In the 1950s, they were Republican members of Congress battling New Dealers in the Truman administration over Asia policy. In the 1980s, they were officials in Ronald Reagan's administration battling congressional Democrats over Central America policy. At the Cuba Lobby's request, Reagan created Radio Martí, modeled on Radio Free Europe, to broadcast propaganda to Cuba. He named Jorge Mas Canosa, founder of the Cuban American National Foundation (CANF), to chair the radio's oversight board. President George H.W. Bush followed with TV Martí. Sen. Jesse Helms (R-N.C.) and Rep. Dan Burton (R-Ind.) authored the 1996 Cuban Liberty and Democratic Solidarity Act, writing the economic embargo into law so no president could change it without congressional approval. Founded at the suggestion of Richard V. Allen, Reagan's first national security advisor, CANF became one of the most powerful ethnic foreign-policy organizations in the United States and was the linchpin of the Cuba Lobby until Mas Canosa's death in 1997. "No individual had more influence over United States policies toward Cuba over the past two decades than Jorge Mas Canosa," the New York Times editorialized. In Washington, CANF built its reputation by spreading campaign contributions to bolster friends and punish enemies. In 1988, CANF money helped Joe Lieberman defeat incumbent Sen. Lowell Weicker, whom Lieberman accused of being soft on Castro because he visited Cuba and advocated better relations. Weicker's defeat sent a chilling message to other members of Congress: challenge the Cuba Lobby at your peril. In 1992, according to Peter Stone's reporting in National Journal, New Jersey Democrat Sen. Robert Torricelli, seduced by the Cuba Lobby's political money, reversed his position on Havana and wrote the Cuban Democracy Act, tightening the embargo. Today, the political action arm of the Cuba Lobby is the U.S.-Cuba Democracy PAC, which hands out more campaign dollars than CANF's political action arm did even at its height -- more than $3 million in the last five national elections. In Miami, conservative Cuban-Americans have long presumed to be the sole authentic voice of the community, silencing dissent by threats and, occasionally, violence. In the 1970s, anti-Castro terrorist groups like Omega 7 and Alpha 66 set off dozens of bombs in Miami and assassinated two Cuban-Americans who advocated dialogue with Castro. Reports by Human Rights Watch in the 1990s documented the climate of fear in Miami and the role that elements of the Cuba Lobby, including CANF, played in creating it. Today, moderate Cuban-Americans have managed to carve out greater space for political debate about U.S. relations with Cuba as attitudes in the community have changed -- a result of both the passing of the old exile generation of the 1960s and the arrival of new immigrants who want to maintain ties with family they left behind. But a network of right-wing radio stations and right-wing bloggers still routinely vilifies moderates by name, branding anyone who favors dialogue as a spy for Castro. The modus operandi is the same as the China Lobby's in the 1950s: One anti-Castro crusader makes dubious accusations of espionage, often based on guilt by association, which the others then repeat ad nauseam, citing one other as proof. Like the China Lobby before it, the Cuba Lobby has also struck fear into the heart of the foreign-policy bureaucracy. The congressional wing of the Cuba Lobby, in concert with its friends in the executive branch, routinely punishes career civil servants who don't toe the line. One of the Cuba Lobby's early targets was John J. "Jay" Taylor, chief of the U.S. Interests Section in Havana, who was given an unsatisfactory annual evaluation report in 1988 by Republican stalwart Elliott Abrams, then assistant secretary of state for inter-American affairs, because Taylor reported from Havana that the Cubans were serious about wanting to negotiate peace in southern Africa and Central America. "CANF had close contact with the Cuban desk, which soon turned notably unfriendly toward my reporting from post and it seemed toward me personally," Taylor recalled in an oral history interview. "Mas and the foundation soon assumed that I was too soft on Castro." The risks of crossing the Cuba Lobby were not lost on other foreign-policy professionals. In 1990, Taylor was in Washington to consult about the newly launched TV Martí, which the Cuban government was jamming so completely that Cubans on the island dubbed it, "la TV que no se ve" ("No-see TV"). But TV Martí's patrons in Washington blindly insisted that the vast majority of the Cuban population was watching the broadcasts. Taylor invited the U.S. Information Agency officials responsible for TV Martí to come to Cuba to see for themselves. "Silence prevailed around the table," he recalled. "I don't think anyone there really believed TV Martí signals were being received in Cuba. It was a Kafkaesque moment, a true Orwellian experience, to see a room full of grown, educated men and women so afraid for their jobs or their political positions that they could take part in such a charade." In 1993, the Cuba Lobby opposed the appointment of President Bill Clinton's first choice to be assistant secretary of state for inter-American affairs, Mario Baeza, because he had once visited Cuba. According to Stone, fearful of the Cuba Lobby's political clout, Clinton dumped Baeza. Two years later, Clinton caved in to the Cuba Lobby's demand that he fire National Security Council official Morton Halperin, who was the architect of the successful 1995 migration accord with Cuba that created a safe, legal route for Cubans to emigrate to the United States. One chief of the U.S. diplomatic mission in Cuba told me he stopped sending sensitive cables to the State Department altogether because they so often leaked to Cuba Lobby supporters in Congress. Instead, the diplomat flew to Miami so he could report to the department by telephone. During George W. Bush's administration, the Cuba Lobby completely captured the State Department's Latin America bureau (renamed the Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs). Bush's first assistant secretary was Otto Reich, a Cuban-American veteran of the Reagan administration and favorite of Miami hard-liners. Reich had run Reagan's "public diplomacy" operation demonizing opponents of the president's Central America policy as communist sympathizers. Reich hired as his deputy Dan Fisk, former staff assistant to Senator Helms and author of the Cuban Liberty and Democratic Solidarity Act. Reich was followed by Roger Noriega, another former Helms staffer, who explained that Bush's policy was aimed at destabilizing the Cuban regime: "We opted for change even if it meant chaos. The Cubans had had too much stability over decades.… Chaos was necessary in order to change reality." In 2002, Bush's undersecretary for arms control and international security, John Bolton, made the dubious charge that Cuba was developing biological weapons. When the national intelligence officer for Latin America, Fulton Armstrong, (along with other intelligence community analysts) objected to this mischaracterization of the community's assessment, Bolton and Reich tried repeatedly to have him fired. The Cuba Lobby began a steady drumbeat of charges that Armstrong was a Cuban agent because his and the community's analysis disputed the Bush team's insistence that the Castro regime was fragile and wouldn't survive the passing of its founder. The 2001 arrest for espionage of the Defense Intelligence Agency's top Cuba analyst, Ana Montes, heightened the Cuba Lobby's hysteria over traitors in government in the same way that the spy cases of the 1950s -- Alger Hiss and the Amerasia magazine affair -- gave the China Lobby ammunition. Armstrong was subjected to repeated and intrusive security investigations, all of which cleared him of wrongdoing. (He completed a four-year term as national intelligence officer and received a prestigious CIA medal recognizing his service when he left the agency in 2008.) When Obama was elected president, promising a "new beginning" in relations with Havana, the Cuba Lobby relied on its congressional wing to stop him. Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), the senior Cuban-American Democrat in Congress and now chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, vehemently opposes any opening to Cuba. In March 2009, he signaled his willingness to defy both his president and his party to get his way. Menendez voted with Republicans to block passage of a $410 billion omnibus appropriations bill (needed to keep the government running) because it relaxed the requirement that Cuba pay in advance for food purchases from U.S. suppliers and eased restrictions on travel to the island. To get Menendez to relent, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner had to promise in writing that the administration would consult Menendez on any change in U.S. policy toward Cuba. Senate Republicans also blocked confirmation of Arturo Valenzuela as Obama's assistant secretary for Western Hemisphere affairs until November 2009. With the bureau managed in the interim by Bush holdovers, no one was pushing from below to carry out Obama's new Cuba policy. After Valenzuela stepped down in 2012, Senator Rubio (R-Fla.), whose father left Cuba in the 1950s, held up confirmation of Valenzuela's replacement, Roberta Jacobson, until the administration agreed to tighten restrictions on educational travel to Cuba, undercutting Obama's stated policy of increasing people-to-people engagement. When Obama nominated career Foreign Service officer Jonathan Farrar to be ambassador to Nicaragua, the Cuba Lobby denounced him as soft on communism. During his previous posting as chief of the U.S. diplomatic mission in Havana, Farrar had reported to Washington that Cuba's traditional dissident movement had very little appeal to ordinary Cubans. Menendez and Rubio teamed up to give Farrar a verbal beating during his confirmation hearing for carrying out Obama's policy of engaging the Cuban government rather than simply antagonizing it. When they blocked Farrar's confirmation, Obama withdrew the nomination, sending Farrar as ambassador to Panama instead. Their point made, Menendez and Rubio did not object.

2NC Terror Link Ext

Plan saps political capital—state sponsor list is determined by politics

Williams 5/3 International Affairs writer for the LA Times, Carol, “Political calculus keeps Cuba on U.S. list of terror sponsors”, 5/3/13, http://articles.latimes.com/2013/may/03/world/la-fg-wn-cuba-us-terror-list-20130502
Political considerations also factor into excluding countries from the “state sponsor” list, he said, pointing to Pakistan as a prime example. Although Islamabad “very clearly supports terrorist and insurgent organizations,” he said, the U.S. government has long refused to provoke its ally in the region with the official censure.

The decision to retain Cuba on the list surprised some observers of the long-contentious relationship between Havana and Washington. Since Fidel Castro retired five years ago and handed the reins of power to his younger brother, Raul, modest economic reforms have been tackled and the government has revoked the practice of requiring Cubans to get “exit visas” before they could leave their country for foreign travel.

There was talk early in Obama’s first term of easing the 51-year-old embargo, and Kerry, though still in the Senate then, wrote a commentary for the Tampa Bay Tribune in 2009 in which he deemed the security threat from Cuba “a faint shadow.” He called then for freer travel between the two countries and an end to the U.S. policy of isolating Cuba “that has manifestly failed for nearly 50 years.”

The political clout of the Cuban American community in South Florida and more recently Havana’s refusal to release Gross have kept any warming between the Cold War adversaries at bay.

It’s a matter of political priorities and trade-offs, Aramesh said. He noted that former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton last year exercised her discretion to get the Iranian opposition group Mujahedeen Khalq, or MEK, removed from the government’s list of designated terrorist organizations. That move was motivated by the hopes of some in Congress that the group could be aided and encouraged to eventually challenge the Tehran regime.

It’s a question of how much political cost you want to incur or how much political capital you want to spend,” Aramesh said. “President Obama has decided not to reach out to Cuba, that he has more important foreign policy battles elsewhere.”

2NC—Cuba-American Lobby

Cuban-American lobby hates the plan

Pecquet 4/28 Julian Pecquet, writer for The Hill, “Cuban-American lawmakers press White House to keep Cuba on terror list” http://thehill.com/blogs/global-affairs/americas/296521--cuban-american-lawmakers-keep-cuba-on-terror-list

Cuban-American lawmakers are pressing the Obama administration to keep Cuba on its list of state sponsors of terrorism as the State Department prepares to release its annual assessment next week. The four Cuban-Americans in the House are drafting a joint letter to Secretary of State John Kerry laying out why they think the communist island still meets the criteria established by the 1979 sanctions law. And the Senate's three Cuban-Americans are also vocally opposed to delisting Cuba, which was first added in 1982. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.) told The Hill she's collaborating with Reps. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-Fla.), Albio Sires (D-N.J.) and Joe Garcia (D-Fla.) on a letter urging the State Department to retain Cuba alongside Iran, Syria and Sudan. The push comes amid reports – vehemently denied by the State Department – that U.S. diplomats have concluded Cuba should be removed from the list to pave the way for better relations with President Raul Castro. We will be laying out a very concrete plan in this coming week about why Cuba deserves to maintain its place in this rogues' gallery,” Ros-Lehtinen said. She said she was particularly encouraged by Thursday's news that the Justice Department has indicted a former U.S. Agency for International Development employee, Marta Rita Velazquez, for allegedly helping a convicted former Defense Intelligence Agency analyst spy for Cuba. The Obama administration is seeking her extradition from Sweden. “It's a recent indication again of the threat that the Castro regime poses to U.S. national security interests,” Ros-Lehtinen said. It “means that somebody in the administration is still aware of the threat that Castro poses.” To delist a country, the State Department must make the case to Congress that a country has seen a change in leadership and policies or that it has not engaged in acts of international terrorism in the past six months and has provided assurances it won't in the future. Cuba says it has stopped supporting Colombia's leftist rebels and is hosting peace talks, but U.S. lawmakers say the country is still running afoul of the law by serving as a safe haven for fugitives from U.S. law and keeping USAID contractor Alan Gross in prison on charges he sought to undermine the Cuban state by distributing communications equipment. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) said he is also drafting a letter to Kerry. “We've certainly communicated with them, we have,” he said. “We think it's critically important they remain on the list, for multiple reasons.” “But certainly I think Cuba continues to classify as a country that supports terrorism and has actively supported it in the past – increasingly against its own people, unfortunately,” Rubio said, a reference to recent incidents such as the death of Cuban activist Oswaldo Payá in a car crash. His driver has said he was driven off the road by a car with government license plates. Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, declined to share what outreach he's been engaged in. “I would expect that there would be no change, because all the elements of why Cuba was on the terror list in the first place still continue to be the same,” he said. “We'll look forward to the State Department's decision but I would not expect a change.” Likewise, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) declined to detail his interactions with the State Department but has made his feelings about the Castro regime clear. Hopefully, in the not too distant future, Fidel Castro and Raul Castro will join Hugo Chavez, and all three will face the ultimate judgment,” he told the annual Cuba-Democracy PAC luncheon in Miami last month, according to Florida's Shark Tank blog. America, he said, needs a “president that will stand up today and say, Mr. Castro, let the Cuban people go. Mr. Castro, open up the ballot box. Mr. Castro, empty the jails.”
Cuban lobby backlash spillover is empirically proven

Leogrande 4/11 William M. Leogrande, professor in the department of government at American University's School of Public Affairs in Washington, D.C., 2013, “The Cuba Lobby” The most powerful lobby in Washington isn't the NRA. It's the Castro-hating right wing that has Obama's bureaucrats terrified and inert, http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2013/04/11/the_cuba_lobby_jay_z?page=0,0

When Obama was elected president, promising a "new beginning" in relations with Havana, the Cuba Lobby relied on its congressional wing to stop him. Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), the senior Cuban-American Democrat in Congress and now chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, vehemently opposes any opening to Cuba. In March 2009, he signaled his willingness to defy both his president and his party to get his way. Menendez voted with Republicans to block passage of a $410 billion omnibus appropriations bill (needed to keep the government running) because it relaxed the requirement that Cuba pay in advance for food purchases from U.S. suppliers and eased restrictions on travel to the island. To get Menendez to relent, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner had to promise in writing that the administration would consult Menendez on any change in U.S. policy toward Cuba.


Rubio hates plan

Hudson 6/3 John, “Rubio: Cuba belongs on the ‘state sponsors of terrorism' list”, Jun 3 2013, http://thecable.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2013/06/03/rubio_cuba_belongs_on_the_state_sponsor_of_terror_list
In the face of mounting calls to remove Cuba from the State Department's list of state sponsors of terrorism, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FLA) defended Foggy Bottom's recent decision to keep Cuba on the list, in a statement to The Cable.

"The Castro regime sponsors terrorism abroad and against their own people, and removing a country from the list of nations that sponsor terrorism requires evidence of reform," Rubio said. "We have not seen such evidence in Cuba."

In its annual Country Reports on Terrorism released last week, the State Department acknowledged that some conditions on the island were improving, but maintained three reasons for keeping Cuba on the list: Providing a safe haven for some two dozen members of Basque Fatherland and Liberty (ETA), a Spanish rebel group charged with terrorist activity; providing aid to Colombia's rebel group the FARC "in past years" -- Cuba no longer supports the group today; and providing harbor to "fugitives wanted in the United States."

"It remains clear that Cuba is the same totalitarian state today that it has been for decades," Rubio told The Cable. "This totalitarian state continues to have close ties to terrorist organizations."

Critics allege that State's rationale for keeping Cuba on the list is increasingly thin and say the island nation shares little in common with the list's other members: Iran, Syria, and Sudan or those that didn't make the list, and arguably should, such as North Korea and Pakistan. They also latched on to a line in the report that says: "There was no indication that the Cuban government provided weapons or paramilitary training to terrorist groups."

"The report makes it clear that the State Department doesn't really believe that Cuba is a state sponsor of terrorism," said Geoff Thale, program director at the left-leaning advocacy group Washington Office on Latin America. "Cuba is clearly on the terrorist list for political reasons."

Cuba has been under a U.S. economic embargo since 1962, which is supported by a small but vocal community of former Cuban citizens in Florida, and a number of members of Congress on both sides of the aisle, such as Senate Foreign Relations Chairman and Cuban-American Robert Menendez (D-NJ), who declined to comment to The Cable.

Earlier this year, the Boston Globe reported that Secretary of State John Kerry, who has criticized travel restrictions to Cuba in the past, was considering removing Cuba from the list, but ultimately opted not to change the policy.

Rubio made it clear that he supports a hard-line on Cuba, and opposes administration efforts to move too quickly on the issue.

"The Obama administration should abandon considering unilateral concessions to the Cuban regime," he told The Cable. "An American development worker Alan Gross remains hostage and only cosmetic reforms have taken place, while nothing has been done to give the Cuban people greater freedoms."

Rubio key to passage

Barnes 4/24 Fred Barnes, writer for the Wall Street Journal “Fred Barnes: Immigration Reform Is Starting to Roll” 2013 http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887324874204578441133717872550.html

And two backers of immigration reform have emerged as key players since Congress took up the issue last week with hearings of the Senate Judiciary Committee. One is President Obama. In February, the leak of a White House bill—including provisions that would be anathema to Republicans—threatened to upset the pro-reform coalition. Since then, the president has promised to stay out of the congressional deliberations.

The other is Republican Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida. His role is as critical as the president's, but for a different reason. Mr. Obama can stymie legislation, but Mr. Rubio's leadership is essential to passing immigration reform in the first place. This is why Republican Sens. John McCain and Lindsey Graham, longtime advocates of reform, recruited him and created the bipartisan "Gang of Eight" with four Republicans and four Democrats.

Mr. Rubio is "a game-changer," says Mr. Graham. "He brings a lot to the table," with solid conservative credentials and a large following among Republicans. Mr. Rubio is ambitious and often mentioned as a presidential candidate in 2016. But as a Cuban-American, he has motives that are more personal and ideological than purely political. This enhances his credibility.


Congressman Diaz-Balart hates the plan

Diaz-Balart 11 Congressman Diaz-Balart, Press Release, “Diaz-Balart condemns the Obama Administration continued appeasement to a Terrorist Regime” http://mariodiazbalart.house.gov/media-center/press-releases/diaz-balart-condemns-the-obama-administration-continued-appeasement-to-a

Washington, D.C. - Congressman Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL) appalled by the Obama Administration's decision to ease sanctions regarding travel and remittance to Cuba. Diaz-Balart states the following: "Any kind of appeasement toward a terrorist regime is unacceptable and endangers our national security. The Administration should not permit the loosening of these sanctions while the Castro regime holds an American hostage. Appeasement will only empower and promote the regime while hindering the freedom of the Cuban people. “Every time the Obama Administration has granted the regime new concessions the Cuban people in return get increased repression. The Obama Administration must realize that appeasing to a ruthless dictator is not the answer today, tomorrow, or ever. Rather than channeling additional U.S. dollars to an ailing regime and state sponsor of terror, the administration should focus on strengthening the brave pro-democracy opposition, which continues to gain ground in Cuba. ”

That’s key to immigration passage in the House

Caputo 4/20 Marc Caputo, writer for the Miami Herald, “From shadows to spotlight, Mario Diaz-Balart plays powerful role in immigration talks” http://www.miamiherald.com/2013/04/20/3355230/from-shadows-to-spotlight-mario.html

Mario Diaz-Balart spoke bluntly to his fellow U.S. House Republicans during a closed-door meeting at Washington’s Capitol Hill Club. “Immigration is the 800-pound gorilla,” the Miami congressman told the room of vote-counting whips just seven days after last November’s election. “The 800-pound gorilla just punched us in the face.” Indeed, Hispanic voters had turned from Republicans in record numbers, in heavy measure because of the way the party’s candidates handled immigration. But beyond the political numbers, Diaz-Balart said, the immigration policy data mattered even more. About 11 million immigrants illegally live in the country. The system is broken. The time to fix it, he said, is during a non-election year. “After I was done speaking, unlike in previous years, a huge number of my colleagues on the whip team came up to me to tell me it was time to do it,” Diaz-Balart told The Herald. “What really changed,” he said, “was a willingness by many to confront the small handful of members who have been very vocal against doing anything, against doing anything realistic.” That day, Nov. 13, marks not just a turning point in the immigration debate, but a significant moment in Diaz-Balart’s political career. Today, the longtime lawmaker plays one of the most-crucial Washington roles in immigration that many have never heard about. The scion of Miami’s preeminent Cuban exile family, Diaz-Balart is a former state legislator, five-term congressman and former nephew by marriage of Fidel Castro and cousin to the dictator’s first son and namesake. Diaz-Balart’s oldest brother, Lincoln, left Congress in 2010, having passed a significant Central American immigration-citizenship law and a codification of the Cuban embargo. As Lincoln (they’re known by many in Miami by just their first names) served in his last term, Mario emerged as an even more important immigration-reform player. The contrast with his fellow Miami Republican and friend, Sen. Marco Rubio, is sharp. Rubio, a fixation of the national press, has saturated the news media as a leading member of the Senate’s bipartisan “Gang of Eight,” which has met for the past four months. By comparison, Mario Diaz-Balart has operated far more in the shadows, where his friendly back-slapping consensus building style has smooth over partisan rifts. Ever since 2009, Diaz-Balart and a bipartisan group of House members have clandestinely met on and off to hammer out an immigration-reform bill. The bill was about 90 percent finished when it was shelved in 2011, as the new Republican House leadership showed as little interest in tackling reform as the old Democratic House leadership. The bill is being updated and, as the Senate votes on its similar version, will be publicly introduced soon either as one mammoth piece of legislation or in parts. Regardless of its final form, the House bill sounds like a blueprint for what became the more publicized Senate deal. Because immigration reform has to go through a House run by Republicans — a party less inclined over the years to support comprehensive immigration reform — Diaz-Balart’s part in getting a final law out of Congress rivals, if not surpasses, that of Rubio, who serves in a Democrat-controlled chamber. Diaz-Balart and his fellow members of the group won’t talk about their bill, their deals, discussions or progress. The House group has no flashy nicknames. Unlike the sieve-like Senate, the House members and staffers didn’t leak info for years. They weren’t regular features on the Sunday talk-show circuit. The House group meetings were held in different rooms in Washington. Some staffers made sure they weren’t seen congregating outside meeting so as not to arouse attention. A few wouldn’t acknowledge each other in a friendly fashion in public.. Was there a secret handshake? “I’d tell you, but I’d have to kill you," Diaz-Balart quipped. The club was, members say, the best-kept secret in Washington, where secrets have a shelf life about three minutes. The club was anti-Washington in this regard as well: It was all about consensus, finding common ground and not scoring points. No votes are taken. Harsh words, threats and posturing are looked down upon. “No one feels like a loser,” said U.S. Rep. Luis Gutiérrez, an Illinois Democrat. “One day, Mario said ‘Luis, we really have to never end a sentence with the phrase: ‘this will kill the deal.’ It was a great idea. And ever since, we don’t do it. And it’s not only me. It’s everyone in the group.” Among Diaz-Balart’s better qualities, Gutiérrez said, is his ability to “take off his partisan hat” — a feat for a member of the Republican whip team.
He’s key

Leary 1/28 Alex Leary Times Washington Bureau Chief “Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart could be key in immigration reform” Tampa Bay Times http://www.tampabay.com/blogs/the-buzz-florida-politics/content/rep-mario-diaz-balart-could-be-key-immigration-reform

Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, R-Miami, has been quietly working with Democrats in his chamber on immigration reform. But he could be most valuable in easing concerns among fellow Republicans, some who have already dismissed a deal in the Senate as "amnesty." "If this was an easy lift it would have been done a long time ago," Diaz-Balart said today on CNN. "We've been hammering out our differences, we've been hammering out what needs to be fixed."

2NC—Obama Pushes

The plan means Obama must be involved

Leogrande 4/11 William M. Leogrande, professor in the department of government at American University's School of Public Affairs in Washington, D.C., 2013, “The Cuba Lobby” The most powerful lobby in Washington isn't the NRA. It's the Castro-hating right wing that has Obama's bureaucrats terrified and inert, http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2013/04/11/the_cuba_lobby_jay_z?page=0,0

The Cuba Lobby's power to derail diplomatic careers is common knowledge among foreign-policy professionals. Throughout Obama's first term, midlevel State Department officials cooperated more closely and deferred more slavishly to congressional opponents of Obama's Cuba policy than to supporters like John Kerry, the new secretary of state who served at the time as Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman. When Senator Kerry tried to get the State Department and USAID to reform the Bush administration's democracy-promotion programs in 2010, he ran into more opposition from the bureaucracy than from Republicans. If Obama intends to finally keep the 2008 campaign promise to take a new direction in relations with Cuba, the job can't be left to foreign-policy bureaucrats, who are so terrified of the Cuba Lobby that they continue to believe, or pretend to believe, absurdities -- that Cubans are watching TV Martí, for instance, or that Cuba is a state sponsor of terrorism. Only a determined president and a tough secretary of state can drive a new policy through a bureaucratic wasteland so paralyzed by fear and inertia.

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