Episode 16: Say Hello To My Little Friend – Tony Montana from Scarface, The Cuban Adjustment Act of 1966, and The Mariel Boatlift of 1980

In this episode, Shai and Roderick are back in Miami to discuss historical events and U.S. Immigration principals that would have enabled cult character Tony Montana, from the Scarface, to achieve Green Card status in the U.S.

The immigration principles they will explore include the Cuban Adjustment Act of 1966 and political events that led to the Mariel Boatlift of 1980. Plus, our co-hosts debate which Al Pacino character was the most successful gangster of all time: Tony Montana or Michael Corleone?

Listen to the episode:

Show Notes

Welcome to this episode of Hasta La Visa, Baby – a podcast that takes a deep dive into US immigration law and its relation to fictitious characters in television and film!  Host Shai Dion is an immigration attorney with Gibney Anthony & Flaherty, and he is based in Los Angeles, CA.  He is joined for this episode – as for all other episodes! – by his New York-based friend and colleague, Gibney Anthony & Flaherty immigration attorney Roderick Potts.  Together, Shai and Roderick demystify immigration law by focusing each episode on a particular work featuring a foreign national living in the US.  They discuss the show or movie, zeroing in on this character to speculate on his/her visa status and possible problems associated with living in the US, and to summarize a hypothetical law consultation with the character.  The only rule?  Each episode assumes the character lives in a modern-day US!

Today, Shai and Roderick discuss the 1983 movie Scarface, a classic dive into the world of organized crime.  Scarface focuses on Cuban immigrants, most notably Tony Montana, who came to Miami during the Mariel boatlift.  It follows Tony’s rise to the top of the crime world and building of a drug empire, a journey that involves assassination, double-crossing, Tony’s own excessive drug use, and eventually Tony’s death.  Even with the illustrious Al Pacino, the brash character of Tony and his saga received divided responses from critics.

One thing no one can debate, though, is that Tony was a Cuban citizen who would have needed a Green Card to live and work in the US!  Shai and Rod consider whether or not Tony could have qualified for a Green Card under the Cuban Adjustment Act of 1966.  Among the several requirements of this act, Tony would have had to warrant the favorable exercise of discretion; in other words, if the immigration officer on his case smelled anything fishy, Tony would likely have been denied.

Because of the holes Rod and Shai can spot in his story to immigration officials, the evidence of his criminal background, and his all-around unpleasant personality, Shai and Rod doubt Tony could have qualified for a Green Card in this way.  Fortunately for him, though, his political connections got him through the immigration process, and Tony was free to move on with life as a would-be mob boss.

Rather than hosting a hypothetical consultation with Tony, Rod and Shai spend the rest of the episode deciding whether Tony or Michael Corleone was the better crime boss, sharing facts and fictions about the Mariel boatlift of 1980, and offering takeaways on everything from language and accents to questions of chemistry and overdosing!


Learn more about the movie featured in this episode: Scarface.
Learn more about Shai Dayan, Roderick Potts, and Gibney Anthony & Flaherty, LLP.
Connect with us at hastalavisa@gibney.com.
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