Earlier this Tuesday, Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas warned in a press conference those Haitians and Cubans who might be thinking to take to the sea and flee to the United States to not come to the country. As domestic turmoil in Haiti and civic protests in Cuba bring the possibility of a refugee surge, the Biden administration warns that the U.S government will not provide them with refuge or safe passage to the U.S.
Mayorkas did his best to discourage anyone trying to reach the U.S by sea, saying that “no time is right to attempt migration by sea” and that nobody should try to do so as it is “not worth the risk” and that anyone who navigates will “not reach the United States”, as anyone intercepted trying to reach the country will not be allowed to enter, “regardless of nationality”.
The government official said that the U.S Coast Guard, using the Homeland Security Southeast Task Force, will respond to “maritime migration” as DHS’ mission in the Caribbean region has “remained unchanged” and that the government will continue to “interdict migrants attempting to enter the United States irregularly” and prevent any unauthorized travel from the United States to Florida.
Mayorkas warned that the conditions of the Florida Strait are extremely dangerous during this time of the year as the Hurricane season is in full swing and that venturing towards the sea would bring a terrible risk for the lives of those trying to cross for no reward at all.
He explained how the U.S government will take those who are facing a credible fear of persecution not to the U.S to apply for asylum, but to a third country where they should wait for their case to be processed, a very similar approach to the protocol used by Trump in the Southern border, which was suspended by President Biden and was heavily criticized in the media.
Haiti was designed as a TPS country last may, which would give a legal permit to work and protection from deportation to Haitians for at last 18 months. The Secretary reminded Haitians that the TPS program is not meant to be an immigration plan and that it only applies to those who were already in the U.S in May.
Mayorkas also said that his department will continue to support the Haitian and Cuban people, albeit he didn’t specify if denying refuge to any fleeing Haitians and Cubans was a part of those efforts.
Many have pointed out that the Secretary’s own family fled Cuba in 1959 months after the revolution that swept Fidel Castro to power, the same regime which hundreds of Cubans are protesting against today. Mr. Mayorkas said, in an interview with ABC in 2015, that his family left the island as “political refugees”.
Immigration policy council at the American Immigration Council, Aaron Reichlin-Melnick, also condemned the move aimed at asylum seekers in a tweet posted Tuesday night.
Cubans used to have a different treatment than the rest of arriving migrants, as they were allowed to reach U.S residency if they arrived at American shores, in a policy known as “dry foot-wet foot”, which was a reinterpretation from the Cuban Adjustment Act of 1966 which provided a path to residency and citizenship to Cuban refugees.
This policy, however, was rescinded by the Obama administration as part of the U.S rapprochement with Cuba, a rejection that was maintained throughout the Trump administration.