Mr. President, tear down this wall... er... travel ban!
Nearly two-thirds of Cuban-Americans living in Miami believe the island would be better off if the U.S. government's travel ban were lifted, according to a new University of Miami study.
The apparent change in attitude toward the travel ban could give Democrats -- who've already said they have the votes to pass the Freedom to Travel to Cuba Act -- the political capital to push through changes later this year.
The poll shows that 64 percent of Cuban-Americans now want to scrap the travel restrictions. Surprisingly, all age groups favor ditching the travel ban, including 62 percent of those 66 years old or older. Overall, the numbers are up 5 percent from late last year, which was already at an all-time high. The new study was overseen by Dr. Andy Gomez, a senior fellow at UM's Institute for Cuban and Cuban-American Studies.
Unsurprisingly, 92 percent of those surveyed said they had given up hope in Cuban President Raúl Castro improving social and economic conditions on the island. However, the poll was completed between June 28 and July 7, the day before the Catholic Church announced a deal for Cuba to release many of its political prisoners.
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SHOW ME HOW
Although Cuban-Americans aren't holding their breath in anticipation of the Castros instituting changes, 73 percent still believe the next Cuban president will come from within the country -- not from Little Havana.
The Freedom to Travel to Cuba Act has already advanced out of the House Agriculture Committee and could reach the floor for a full vote later this year. It will face stiffer opposition in the Senate, however, where the Cuban-American senator from New Jersey, Robert Menendez, has promised a filibuster.
If the initiative fails, experts say President Obama could end up lifting the travel ban by executive order.