The Biden administration was accused Wednesday of a double-standard on asylum-seekers after Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas warned that Cubans fleeing unrest and persecution from the island’s communist regime would be turned away.
Sen. Ted Cruz, Texas Republican, compared the hard line on refugees from Cuba and Haiti to President Biden’s more welcoming approach to the flood of Central American migrants being processed as they seek to cross the U.S.-Mexico border illegally.
“It seems for Joe Biden and [Vice President] Kamala Harris the only immigrants on the face of the earth that they don’t want to come to America are Cubans,” said Mr. Cruz on Fox’s “America Reports.” “That’s the only instance in which the Biden administration is expressing a resistance to people coming here illegally.”
Mr. Mayorkas said Tuesday that Cubans and Haitians attempting to cross the Caribbean Sea and Straits of Florida would not be permitted on U.S. soil, but that those who establish a “well-founded fear of persecution or torture” would be referred to third countries for resettlement.
“Allow me to be clear: If you take to the sea, you will not come to the United States,” Mr. Mayorkas said, citing the dangers of such a voyage.
Unprecedented anti-regime protests have broken out in Cuba, prompting violent clashes between demonstrators and authorities, while Haiti has been rocked by the July 7 assassination of President Jovenel Moise.
“The time is never right to attempt migration by sea,” Mr. Mayorkas said. “To those who risk their lives doing so, this risk is not worth taking.”
Former Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley, a potential 2024 Republican presidential hopeful, said Wednesday that the administration was “literally scared and they don’t know what to do.”
“They refuse to fix the border back to the way President Trump had it, yet now they’re going to tell allies in Cuba who are begging for freedom, ‘Don’t come, oh, and by the way, we’re not going to do anything to help you,’” said Ms. Haley on Fox. “It’s awful, truly awful.”
White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Wednesday that U.S. policy for those who arrive by sea as well as by land remains to go through the asylum application process.
“What [Mr. Mayorkas] is reiterating is this is not the time to travel irregularly. It’s dangerous. People could lose their lives as they have in the past,” Ms. Psaki said.
Even so, critics condemned the contrast with the situation at the southern border.
“While the Biden administration does not want a wall at the southern border and is stockpiling children in cages (notice how no one cares about that anymore), people fleeing the chaos of a communist dictator in Cuba and the chaos of Haiti will be turned away,” said conservative radio host Erick Erickson. “Water walls are good. The actual walls are bad, apparently.”
Rick Manning, president of Americans for Limited Government, accused the Biden administration of harboring a political agenda.
“Refusing to give political asylum to those who are legitimately fleeing political violence and oppression in Cuba, after opening the borders to anyone who makes an asylum claim from Central America, demonstrates that Biden’s border policy is not about human rights, it is about importing voters,” Mr. Manning said. “Those fleeing Cuba will never vote for the left’s Marxist nightmare, so they are denied even as they are living under one of the most repressive regimes in the world.”
Conservative pundit Dana Loesch tweeted that the Biden administration “should just come out and say they’ll only allow in people who don’t vote Republican.”
Mr. Mayorkas himself fled Cuba as an infant with his family in 1960 to escape Fidel Castro’s revolution and ended up in Los Angeles.
He said there has been no “surge” in the number of Cubans and Haitians intercepted by the Coast Guard. So far this fiscal year 470 Cubans and 313 Haitians have been apprehended at sea, versus 49 Cubans and 430 Haitians in the previous fiscal year.