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Unlike other migrants, Cubans get welfare benefits and shot at citizenship

Scores of Cubans crossed the border bridge here from Mexico on a recent week day, pregnant women in fluorescent rhinestone-studded T-shirts, men in tight jeans towing suitcases – all in search of Alejandro Ruiz.

Many of the migrants find Ruiz via his cellphone or by navigating his Facebook page. But on this day, those searching for Ruiz came up empty when they reached his storefront office. He was on the other side of town, busy helping new arrivals at one of two temporary shelters he operates.

Ruiz, 49, a Cuban American auto body shop owner, noticed the need here years ago as the influx was just starting. He encountered Cuban migrants at the border checkpoint who seemed...