September 20, 1980
The federal government announced plans to consolidate unprocessed Cuban refugees at Fort Chaffee to spare them the cold winters of Wisconsin and Pennsylvania. In mid-September, fewer than 3,000 refugees who had fled from the port of Mariel, Cuba, seeking political asylum remained at Fort Chaffee near Fort Smith (Sebastian County). The American government then moved refugees from other centers to raise the Cuban population of Fort Chaffee to more than 8,300. Governor Bill Clinton is among those who felt that the association of the Cuban refugee problem with his term in office contributed to his defeat for reelection by Frank White.