With this appeal from Homeland Security Minister Alejandro Mallorcas, Washington is trying to prevent the influx of refugees if the situation in Cuba, in particular, gets out of control. There have been unprecedented anti-government demonstrations there since Sunday. In Haiti, the political crisis has worsened since last week with the assassination of President Jovenel Moise.
“The time is absolutely not right to try to emigrate by sea,” said Mallorcas, who was born in Cuba, and whose parents immigrated to the United States shortly after the Cuban Revolution. “For those who are risking their lives to do so, it is not worth the risk. Let me be clear: If you go out to sea, you will not make it to the United States. No immigrant intercepted at sea, regardless of nationality, will be allowed to enter the United States.
Mallorcas issued his warning during a visit to Coast Guard headquarters in Washington. The day before, Coast Guard Commander Eric Jones urged Cubans not to go out to sea to reach Florida. “The journey is dangerous and brutal,” Jones said, noting that 20 migrants had drowned in recent weeks on their way to the United States.
Minister Mallorcas says DHS is “closely monitoring” the situation in Cuba and Haiti. He says the Coast Guard is monitoring the Florida Strait for anyone trying to cross the strait into the United States. pic.twitter.com/AZVfGWxpH3
– Luke Barr (@LukeLBarr) July 13, 2021
According to Mallorcas, there are no indications yet that the influx of refugees from Cuba and Haiti has actually begun. The Coast Guard has not seen any increase in the number of people trying to reach the United States in recent days. The minister said anyone trying to do so would be sent home immediately. For example, on Saturday 23 Cubans were turned back after their boat was intercepted near the Florida Keys.
Majorcas: ‘If people make it clear that they have a well-founded fear of persecution or torture, they will be referred to third countries for settlement. They will not enter the United States.” The United States uses its naval base at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba to process applications from Cuban asylum seekers in particular. In the past, Australia has included some of them, among others.
The last time Cubans and Haitians en masse sought the United States in a short time due to the poor situation in their country was in the 1980s and 1990s. Then they were accepted into the United States. In 1980, for example, about 125,000 Cubans left the island in boats within six months. The Castro regime allowed them to leave undisturbed. Among them were many prisoners left by Havana.
About 30,000 Haitians have also made it to the United States. In 1994 there was another mass exodus from Cuba, following the political upheaval on the island. Then the Coast Guard intercepted nearly 40,000 Cubans trying to cross more than 100 miles through the Florida Strait.
Partly because many Cubans fled after Fidel Castro took power in 1959, the Cuban community in the United States has grown to more than two million people. The vast majority live in Florida. Until 1995, Cuban refugees could easily settle in the United States. But under President Bill Clinton, that is over. Cubans intercepted at sea, it was agreed with Havana, that they would henceforth be returned.
Anyone who can explain that they will be persecuted upon return is eligible to settle in another country. Cubans who nevertheless managed to reach Florida by boat were allowed to stay and could qualify for legal resident status. In 2017, President Barack Obama ended the “wet feet, dry feet” policy. Since then, the current, stricter admissions policy has been in effect. Two years ago, Obama restored diplomatic relations with Cuba.