U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas warned Cubans and Haitians on Tuesday that the Biden administration will throw out anyone who attempts to come to the United States by sea.
The statement comes from a Biden administration that claimed it “stand[s] with the Cuban people as they bravely assert their fundamental and universal rights, and as they all call for freedom and relief from the tragic grip of the pandemic and from the decades of repression and economic suffering.”
“The time is never right to attempt migration by sea. To those who risk their lives doing so, this risk is not worth taking,” Mayorkas said at a news conference at the U.S. Coast Guard’s headquarters in Washington.
He highlighted that the seas are risky, especially during hurricane seasons, Fox News reported.
Mayorkas is himself a citizen who first came to the U.S. from Cuba as a refugee.
“Allow me to be clear: If you take to the sea, you will not come to the United States,” he said.
Haiti suffers from political chaos following the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse last week.
Riddled with longstanding instability, human rights abuses and police and gang violence, according to Human Rights Watch, the country reached out to the U.S. to help restore order with American troops, a plea the Biden administration rebuffed.
Cuba, on the other hand, is facing an unprecedented uprising against the communist regime as COVID-19’s aftermath proved to be the straw that broke the camel’s back.
Suffering from food and medical shortages, soaring prices and other economic crises, civilians took to the streets Sunday demanding an end to more than 60 years of communist repression. During the demonstrations, some of them waved the American flag as a symbol of freedom.
The communist government has started cracking down on its citizens who demonstrated Sunday, restricting popular internet services and even going so far as to arrest a YouTuber on camera in the middle of an interview, as reported by NPR.
Cuban state security forces detain independent journalist @DinaStars_ as she she was being interviewed live on TV by @martaflich of Spain. She has been covering the protests.#SOSCuba #PatriaYVida pic.twitter.com/2EgToHXDdq
— Giancarlo Sopo (@GiancarloSopo) July 13, 2021
Mayorkas said at the Tuesday news conference that the Coast Guard is keeping an eye out for undocumented migration across the Florida Straits during this tumultuous period for both Haiti and Cuba. He said the concerned agencies have not yet observed a “surge” in undocumented crossings.
Anyone who makes an undocumented crossing will be returned “by vessels of interdiction. If individuals establish a well-founded fear of persecution or torture, they are referred to third countries for settlement,” Mayorkas said, according to Fox News.
“They will not enter the United States,” he said.
The secretary said authorities have intercepted 470 Cubans and 313 Haitians at sea in the fiscal year 2021, according to Politico. In the previous fiscal year, 49 Cubans and 430 Haitians were intercepted.
Mayorkas in May said Haitian nationals already in the U.S. would receive a temporary protected status designation, permitting them to have legal status for 18 months, the outlet reported.
He underlined Tuesday that the status designation is “not an immigration program,” Politico reported.
Katharina Obser, acting director of the Migrant Rights & Justice Program at the Women’s Refugee Commission, slammed the Biden administration for Mayorkas’ statements, according to The Washington Post.
She said the organization was “gravely disappointed” by his “repeated insistence on rejecting desperate families, children, and single adults from our borders, whether by foot or by sea.”
Many Cuban-Americans in South Florida were angered by Mayorkas’ statement.
If it’s not the Castros repressing Cubans in Cuba it’s now @SecMayorkas making sure that Cuban refugees stay in Cuba.
I’m sure Fidel Castro is staring up from Hell with pride and gratitude at Alejandro Mayorkas for his service to the regime.
You betrayed your people, man.
— Desi Cuellar 🇺🇲🇨🇺 (@DesiJCuellar) July 14, 2021
#SoSCuba he may be Cuban but he’s not one of us.
— Zoe Ileana 🇺🇸 (@zoeileana) July 14, 2021
Others pointed out the possible political motivation behind the decision.
— Ryan Saavedra (@RealSaavedra) July 14, 2021
Oh, now you like borders. Could it be that both Cubans and Haitians vote Republican? https://t.co/5znQ9gC6sG
— Ian Miles Cheong @ stillgray.substack.com (@stillgray) July 13, 2021
“Cubans are being slaughtered by communists and the Biden administration won’t let them come to the U.S. because they know that the majority of Cubans vote for Republicans,” Daily Wire reporter Ryan Saavedra wrote in a Wednesday post on Twitter.
According to a 2020 Pew Research Center survey, most Cuban-Americans identify as Republican.
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