Influence over Foreign Policy
While foreign governments are prohibited from lobbying the institutions of government, scores of ethnic-American organizations regularly lobby Congress and the president on behalf of their countries of concern. The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) was rated by Fortune magazine as the fourth most powerful lobbying group in Washington. The Cuban American National Foundation (CANF) is considered the second most influential ethnic lobby in Washington. Persistent lobbying by CANF helped win passage of Helms-Burton, a 1996 law that tightened the U.S. embargo against Cuba. CANF and other Cuban-American lobbying organizations demonstrated their influence during the Elian Gonzalez controversy. Although polls showed that upward of 70 percent of the American public favored the return of young Elian to his father in Cuba, Cuban-Americans were able to help stall the boy's deportation for more than half a year.