In interviews in wedding chapels and casinos, all around this city of stretch limos, slot machines and neon signs, Mexicans who make up so much of the workforce said it would be far more meaningful to elect the first Mexican American president than the first Latino. Many said they would vote for a non-Latino over a Cuban American.
In two days of interviews, not a single Mexican said he or she supported Rubio or Cruz, and even some Cubans said they don’t plan to support either Cuban American candidate.
Part of the friction between Mexicans and Cubans comes from the starkly different reception they get when they arrive in the United States. Cubans who reach U.S. shores are almost automatically granted residency and eligibility for food stamps and other welfare benefits because of a special policy for those coming from the communist island — many arriving through Mexico. Mexicans who enter without legal papers live under the threat of deportation.
There are cultural distinctions, too. They speak with different accents, celebrate different customs and eat different foods. Mexico is soccer-obsessed, while Cuba loves baseball.
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