The Biden administration, which has been incredibly lax with border restrictions at the US-Mexico border ,said unequivocally on Tuesday that Cuban migrants who travel by sea "will not come to the United States."
Department of Homeland Security Secretary, who in March told migrants seeking entrance to the US over the southern border "we're not saying don't come, we're saying don't come now," and then couldn't remember having done so, issued a statement saying "if you take to the Sea, you will not come to the United States."
While he said that "We stand in solidarity with the Cuban people and their call for freedom from the repression and economic suffering that the Cuban’s authoritarian regime is causing. DHS is working with our partners to support the Haitian and Cuban people," he also issued broader warning to them to not come to the US.
"The Coast Guard, along with our state, local, and federal partners are monitoring any activity that may indicate increases in unsafe and irregular maritime migration in the Florida straits, including unpermitted vessel departures from Florida to Cuba," said Mayorkas, who has Cuban heritage.
Migrants at the US-Mexico border have encountered leniency from the Biden administration, that has promised to let in all unaccompanied minors, women who are pregnant, had a child within the past year, or are nursing, has made allowances for families, and those who are seeing refugee or asylum status. These considerations will not be made for Cuban or Haitian migrants, according to DHS.
"Any migrant intercepted at sea, regardless of their nationality, will not be permitted to enter the United States," Mayorkas said. "Migrants who do attempt to enter the United States by sea put their lives at incredible risk. The waters in the straits of Florida in the Caribbean are dangerous, especially now as we have entered hurricane season. People will die."
On Sunday, thousands of Cubans took to the streets across the island nation to protest its communist dictatorship and demand its end. The Biden administration alleged that much of the civil unrest was due to the COVID-19 pandemic and a want for vaccines. Protestors marched, chanting "we are not afraid" and "freedom."
Even so, the administration has repeatedly claimed that Cubans are primarily upset about a lack of access to vaccines, and promised to help the communist nation deliver those vaccines to their population.
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said "I would say that when people are out there in the streets protesting, and complaining about the lack of access to economic prosperity, to the medical supplies they need, to the life they deserve to live, that can take on a range of meanings. There's a global pandemic right now, most people on the ground don't have access to vaccines, that's something we'd love to help with."
"One of the issues that protestors are out there justifiably protesting in the streets about is hunger, lack of access to vaccines, etc. But we are continuing to provide a range of assistance, which we will continue to do. I will say on vaccines: one of the challenges… is that Cuba has not joined COVAX," she told reporters during the White House briefing.
"We certainly recognize that access to vaccines is one of the issues that a number of individuals in the streets is voicing concern about," Psaki said, "but we have to determine what the mechanism would be to work with the Cuban people to get vaccines to them. That's something we're working through."