The Biden administration is sending back Cubans who show up on American shores fleeing political persecution in their home country. Just last week, the U.S. Coast Guard announced the repatriation of 27 Cuban refugees to the communist country. They were caught attempting to make their way to Florida on two separate vessels.
These are the first “balseros,” or rafters, apprehended en route to the United States since the July protests rocked the Cuban regime. Starting on July 11, thousands of Cubans marched the streets in multiple cities and municipalities. While the U.S. media generally portrayed the demonstrators as objecting to a shortage of COVID-19 vaccines, their chants and slogans conveyed their real objectives: freedom and an end to 60-plus years of communist rule. This fiscal year, the Coast Guard has intercepted more than 500 migrants from Cuba.
The Biden administration fully knows that when Cuban escapees are returned to Cuba, their fate is dire. The regime in Havana has a long history of imprisoning, torturing, and even murdering those who attempt to flee the island. This is on par with what communist regimes have always done, from the former Soviet Union to Eastern Europe. Sending refugees back is, in effect, giving them a death sentence.
Moreover, U.S. laws are generally hospitable to refugees fleeing political persecution. The United States has historically welcomed Russian defectors, East German asylum-seekers, and other repressed peoples seeking to live in freedom. U.S. immigration law specifically distinguishes between people who are merely poor and seek to get away from poor countries—this applies pretty much to the entire developing world—and those escaping totalitarian political repression. Only the latter qualify under the designation of political refugees.
Alejandro Mayorkas, director of Homeland Security and himself of Cuban descent, issued a stern statement to Cubans thinking about fleeing their island: “Allow me to be clear: If you take to the sea, you will not come to the United States.”
At the behest of the Biden administration, the U.S. Coast Guard issued a stern statement: “People who violate U.S. immigration laws and illegally bring foreign nationals into the country or who attempt to do so may be subject to arrest, vessel forfeiture, civil and criminal fines up to $250,000 a day, and five years in prison.” This seems directed at Cuban Americans who might seek to help Cubans make it to the United States.
Now these positions, albeit harsh, might be more understandable if the Biden administration had taken a hard line against immigration, adopting an “America first” policy in which the doors were closed to outsiders, and immigrants were only permitted to enter through the usual cumbersome legal process. But, in reality, the very same Biden administration has essentially unlocked the gate to the southern borders, and droves of illegals are pouring in.
The illegals coming through the southern border are not, for the most part, fleeing totalitarian persecution. They come from countries such as Mexico, El Salvador, and Nicaragua that are poor, dysfunctional, and plagued by the same stagnation and rot that bedevils scores of nations in Central and South America, Africa, the Middle East, and the Far East.
Incredibly, a sizable number of illegals streaming into Arizona, Texas, and California are coming from faraway places such as Haiti, Egypt, Pakistan, and China. Some are habitual criminals. Others, no doubt, are spies. Some have COVID-19. The whole operation is managed by cartels and other criminal enterprises. Yet Biden seems perfectly fine with this illegal invasion—indeed, he invited it.
What explains this stunning double standard by which the Biden administration turns back freedom-seeking Cubans while opening its door to Haitians, Mexicans, and Chinese coming through the southern border? To listen to Mayorkas, you’d think he was worried about the lives and safety of the Cubans themselves. “Our priority is to preserve and save lives,” he said. “The time is never right to attempt migration by sea. To those who risk their lives doing so, this risk is not worth taking.”
This statement is both condescending and disingenuous. It’s condescending because the people risking their lives are in a far better position to judge whether the risk is worth taking or not. Undoubtedly, they find life in Cuba to be so oppressive that they would rather die trying to make their way to freedom. Who is Mayorkas to make this risk calculation for them? It’s their lives, not his.
Mayorkas is also being dishonest. Why? Because the illegals streaming across the southern border with the blessing of the Biden administration are also risking their lives and safety. That whole operation is managed by gangs that extort money from the migrants. It’s rife with sex trafficking. Young children are kidnapped throughout Central America as human passports to enable adults to get through the border. So why the exclusive solicitude for the Cubans?
The simple truth is that this isn’t about safety. The Biden administration couldn’t care less about the safety either of the Cubans or the migrants showing up at the southern border. I believe there are three reasons they’re blocking the Cubans while waving everyone else through: to punish the Cuban Americans, to keep out the anti-communists, and to let in people who are likely through dependency on the provision of the U.S. government to become future Democratic voters.
Cuban Americans have always leaned Republican. They were heavily Republican in the second half of the 20th century because they identified the GOP as the anti-communist party. Their children, however, had less exposure to communism and therefore were more politically diverse. Under Trump, however, the Cuban American community seems to have moved rightward again, turning the swing state of Florida into a clean win for Trump. Biden is undoubtedly angry about this, and sending desperate Cubans home to punishment and death is one way for him to show it.
Second, Cubans fleeing Cuba are likely to be vehemently anti-communist themselves. Grant them refugee status, and then citizenship, and their political loyalties are easy to predict. These are hard-core Republicans, even if they don’t yet know it. The Biden administration knows it. They don’t want more anti-communists and Republican voters in America. They want to keep such people out.
Third—and this point is often missed—the Biden administration, just like the Obama administration, wants to help prop up the Cuban regime. Remember when Obama went to a baseball game with the Cuban dictator, Raoul Castro? Shortly after his return, Obama changed U.S. policy to ensure that Cubans who fled the island and showed up in America weren’t given automatic admission. Obama’s goal was to shore up the Castro regime.
Biden, too, wants to keep intact left-wing authoritarian regimes in places such as Venezuela and Cuba. Biden’s Cuba policy is basically an extension of Obama’s policy. And in the Obama tradition, Biden officials issue empty statements—“We stand with the people of Venezuela,” “We stand with the people of Cuba”—but they don’t actually do anything to help those people. Indeed, their intention is to help the regimes that are persecuting them.
If this seems like an unduly harsh assessment, it’s not. It’s duly harsh. We have some very bad regimes around the world—Cuba and Venezuela among them—run by very bad people, but we also have a bad regime run by bad people here in the United States. These regimes are in solidarity with each other, or to echo an old proverb in a new context, “Birds of a feather flock together.”
Dinesh D’Souza is an author, filmmaker, and daily host of the Dinesh D’Souza podcast.