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Mayorka’s message comes amid ongoing protests in Cuba calling for an end to the 62-year dictatorship and the recent assassination of the President of Haiti.
The Biden government has expressed solidarity with the thousands of Cubans protesting on the communist-led island, but has not yet communicated any specific plans or guidelines to help them. A delegation of US officials traveled to Haiti on Sunday to discuss the Haitian government’s request for US assistance following the president’s assassination.
Many migrants who tried to reach the United States by sea have died on the dangerous trek over the years. In the past few weeks, 20 migrants have died at sea, Mayorkas said.
So far, the US has not seen an increase in Cuban or Haitian migrants by sea, Mayorkas said. But the US Coast Guard has dispatched officials to oversee the situation in the Florida Straits and the Caribbean Sea by air and sea, he said.
“Any migrant intercepted at sea, regardless of nationality, will not be allowed to enter the United States,” Mayorkas said.
470 Cubans and 313 Haitians were intercepted at sea in FY 2021, compared to 49 Cubans and 430 Haitians in FY 2020, Mayorkas said.
In May, Mayorkas announced the granting of temporary protection status to Haiti, which will allow Haitians who were in the US at the time of the announcement to receive legal status for 18 months. Mayorkas stressed on Tuesday that TPS is “not an immigration program” for Haitians and only benefits those who are already in the US in May.
The Biden administration is “evaluating” probation programs that would help Cubans and Haitians in their home countries who want to migrate, Mayorkas said, pointing out that the Trump administration has ended those programs. President Joe Biden campaigned to reinstate the parole program for Cuban family reunification, but six months into his tenure failed to do so.
Some Republicans, including Florida Senator Marco Rubio, have expressed concern that the Cuban government will begin encouraging mass migration to the United States, as it did in 1994 when Cuba last saw major protests. However, US-Cuba experts say the scale of migration by sea is less likely this time around, as Washington no longer has an immigration policy that welcomes Cubans when they reach US soil.