Cuban-Americans Sue Over Travel Restrictions - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Cuban-Americans Sue Over Travel Restrictions

Cuba - File Photo Cuba - File Photo
Cuba - File Photo Cuba - File Photo
Armando Vilaseca with the aunt he hopes to visit. Armando Vilaseca with the aunt he hopes to visit.
Armando Vilaseca Armando Vilaseca

Burlington, Vermont - May 28, 2008

Armando Vilaseca is one of four plaintiffs challenging a federal order restricting Cuban-Americans from visiting relatives in Cuba -- a communist country the United States has tried to isolate for half a century.

"Just having the ability to maintain family relations over two governments a thousand miles away that are not having relations -- it's a challenge," he said.

The plaintiffs say their lawsuit is the first of its kind to challenge a four-year-old executive order. Cuban-Americans used to be able to visit family in Cuba once a year. But in 2004 an executive order limited visits to once every three years, and people could only visit immediate family. The idea was to limit the infusion of currency into the Communist country, but plaintiffs say this isn't about support for communism; it's about support for their own families.

Vilaseca joined the lawsuit in March, hoping he could visit Cuba before an elderly aunt died of cancer.

"I still hoped to have seen her one more time," he said, "but my story is one that's told tens of thousands of times throughout this country."

Attorneys for the federal government argued there is no constitutional right to travel abroad, and the government can restrict travel to achieve a foreign policy goal. They said travel to Cuba provides hard currency that supports Castro's Communist regime.

The judge will have to decide if that's enough of a reason to restrict people like Vilaseca from visiting their relatives.

"I understand the foreign policy issue, but our issue is very much the humanity issue," Vilaseca said. "The issue of person-to-person, the ability to visit cousins, aunts, godchildren, whoever, in Cuba."

The Vermont branch of the American Civil Liberties Union says this case is being watched closely -- especially in areas like Massachusetts and Florida with large populations of Cuban-Americans.

"The restrictions are discriminating against a national group, in this case Cubans or Cuban-Americans, and basically, the Constitution says you really can't do that," explained Allen Gilbert, executive director of the Vermont ACLU. "You can't discriminate against people of national origin in that way. The other thing it's doing is cutting down the constitutional liberty of being able to be with family members, without real justification for doing so. The Constitution can restrict freedoms, but it has to have a good reason."

Judge William Sessions has asked the lawyers for more information about how the order has been implemented. Supplemental memoranda are expected in the next 30 days. But Sessions said, "This is not something that's going to be expeditiously resolved."

Kate Duffy - WCAX News

  • Local NewsMore>>

  • Rutland pharmacist accused of stealing meds

    Rutland pharmacist accused of stealing meds

    Wednesday, April 23 2014 11:43 PM EDT2014-04-24 03:43:47 GMT
    In Rutland a pharmacist is accused of stealing meds from his employer. 32-year-old Brandon Cigana worked at the Walgreens Pharmacy on Woodstock Avenue. Prosecutors say he used his position there to access the pharmacy's inventory stealing regulated drugs like benzodiazepines, Hydrocodone and Suboxone for himself without a prescription. The Whitehall, New York man faces up to two years behind bars.More >>
    In Rutland a pharmacist is accused of stealing meds from his employer. 32-year-old Brandon Cigana worked at the Walgreens Pharmacy on Woodstock Avenue. Prosecutors say he used his position there to access the pharmacy's inventory stealing regulated drugs like benzodiazepines, Hydrocodone and Suboxone for himself without a prescription. The Whitehall, New York man faces up to two years behind bars.More >>
  • Drug bust in Burlington's Old North End

    Drug bust in Burlington's Old North End

    Wednesday, April 23 2014 11:44 PM EDT2014-04-24 03:44:04 GMT
    Police made a drug bust Wednesday night in Burlington's Old North End. Police and the U.S. Marshal's raided this home on Cedar Street around 8 o'clock. They say they seized heroin and cocaine. Six people were inside when authorities went in. But they're not saying how many arrests were made. The raid was part of an ongoing drug investigation.More >>
    Police made a drug bust Wednesday night in Burlington's Old North End. Police and the U.S. Marshal's raided this home on Cedar Street around 8 o'clock. They say they seized heroin and cocaine. Six people were inside when authorities went in. But they're not saying how many arrests were made. The raid was part of an ongoing drug investigation.More >>
  • Fire damages Lyndonville tree farm

    Fire damages Lyndonville tree farm

    Wednesday, April 23 2014 11:44 PM EDT2014-04-24 03:44:21 GMT
    Fire has damaged ten acres of a Lyndonville tree farm. Eight department were called in to battle the blaze. And it took four hours to get the flames under control. Fire officals say a discarded cigarette combined with dry conditions are to blame. One firefighter suffered from minor smoke inhalation.More >>
    Fire has damaged ten acres of a Lyndonville tree farm. Eight department were called in to battle the blaze. And it took four hours to get the flames under control. Fire officals say a discarded cigarette combined with dry conditions are to blame. One firefighter suffered from minor smoke inhalation.More >>
  • A warning for bird watchers: Give eagles space

    A warning for bird watchers: Give eagles space

    Wednesday, April 23 2014 11:44 PM EDT2014-04-24 03:44:36 GMT
    Bird watchers are being reminded to give nesting bald eagles plenty of space. The Vermont Fish Wildlife Department is urging anyone who sees a nesting eagle not to get closer than 300 feet. Activity too close to their nest can result in them abandoning their young. Harassing a bald eagle is illegal and a violation of the state endangered species statute.More >>
    Bird watchers are being reminded to give nesting bald eagles plenty of space. The Vermont Fish Wildlife Department is urging anyone who sees a nesting eagle not to get closer than 300 feet. Activity too close to their nest can result in them abandoning their young. Harassing a bald eagle is illegal and a violation of the state endangered species statute.More >>
  • Gun fired into New Haven home

    Gun fired into New Haven home

    Wednesday, April 23 2014 11:44 PM EDT2014-04-24 03:44:48 GMT
    Police are searching for who fired a gun into a home in New Haven. It happened late Tuesday night at 2420 Munger Street. Police say a bullet passed through a window of the home. Luckily no one was hurt. Investigators say a stop sign at the intersection of Munger Street and Cobble Road had also been shot. Anyone with information should call state police.More >>
    Police are searching for who fired a gun into a home in New Haven. It happened late Tuesday night at 2420 Munger Street. Police say a bullet passed through a window of the home. Luckily no one was hurt. Investigators say a stop sign at the intersection of Munger Street and Cobble Road had also been shot. Anyone with information should call state police.More >>
  • What triggered a shooting inside the Bennington police station?

    What triggered a shooting inside the Bennington police station?

    Wednesday, April 23 2014 6:57 PM EDT2014-04-23 22:57:35 GMT
    A Bennington man is in stable condition after being shot by an officer inside the Bennington Police Department. Investigators say Gregory Filo had a knife and was behaving erratically.More >>
    A Bennington man is in stable condition after being shot by an officer inside the Bennington Police Department. Investigators say Gregory Filo had a knife and was behaving erratically.More >>
  • Former Fortune 500 exec indicted in fatal NH crash

    Former Fortune 500 exec indicted in fatal NH crash

    A New Hampshire grand jury has indicted a former Fortune 500 executive on second-degree murder charges in connection with a crash that killed a Vermont couple in December.More >>
    A New Hampshire grand jury has indicted a former Fortune 500 executive on second-degree murder charges in a crash that killed a Vermont couple in December.More >>
  • Convicted Vt. embezzler charged with stealing from employer

    Convicted Vt. embezzler charged with stealing from employer

    Wednesday, April 23 2014 7:24 PM EDT2014-04-23 23:24:36 GMT
    Nearly two decades after her first conviction, a white-collar criminal returns to court once again charged with stealing from her employer. More >>
    Nearly two decades after her first conviction, a white-collar criminal returns to court once again charged with stealing from her employer.
    More >>
Powered by WorldNow
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 WorldNow and WCAX. All Rights Reserved. For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.