Biden’s border policy punishes the very people the U.S. should be helping | Miami Herald,  January 27, 2023

Miami Herald,  January 27, 2023

Biden’s border policy punishes the very people the U.S. should be helping | Guest Opinion

By John Suarez

January 27, 2023, 6:27 PM

On Jan. 5, the Biden administration announced a series of new border enforcement actions that, according to immigration experts, amount to a transit asylum ban.

Biden created an opportunity for up to 30,000 people per month from Haiti, Nicaragua and Cuba to apply for parole back in their home country as a diversion from ending asylum at the border, but this means that refugees fleeing a deadly situation will have to return to it. Furthermore, the Cuban dictatorship has a history of prohibiting dissidents from traveling.

Cuban, Nicaraguan and Venezuelan dissidents persecuted by their respective governments for reasons of conscience are refugees, as are Haitians fleeing political turmoil. The Biden administration is denying them the right to apply for asylum in the United States.

The president’s policy contradicts the 1951 Refugee Convention and its 1967 Protocol, which recognize a refugee’s right to seek asylum outside their home country if they have a credible fear of persecution if they return, and which the United States signed and ratified.

Cubans have well-founded fears of persecution. In 1959, a communist dictatorship emerged that demonized those who tried to leave as counter-revolutionaries, “worms” and “scum.”

Since the Castro regime eliminated independent mass media in Cuba, outlawed human-rights groups and banned international human-rights organizations, including Amnesty International, from the island, the full scope of human-rights violations, including torture and extrajudicial killings, remains undocumented. The International Committee of the Red Cross has not had access to Cuban prisons since 1989, and only for one year beginning in 1988. It had been barred from entering them since 1959.

Despite the regime’s best efforts, however, some atrocities have been revealed.

Over six decades, Ministry of Transportation vessels committed numerous acts of brutality against Cubans attempting to flee the island on boats or on rafts. Castro regime agents shot at Cubans trying to swim to the U.S. Guantanamo Naval Base, their bodies pulled from the sea with gaff hooks used for sport fishing.

The most recent massacre took place on Oct. 28, 2022.

How many other refugees in the Americas are targeted by their own government’s coast guard or regime vessels ramming and sinking boatloads of refugees?

After the disintegration of the Soviet Union in 1991, Havana reconstituted itself domestically with Beijing’s assistance, and internationally through the establishment of the Sao Paulo Forum, achieving long-held strategic goals: Hugo Chavez’s takeover of Venezuela in 1999 and Daniel Ortega’s return to power in Nicaragua in 2006.

Cuban soldiers and intelligence officers are torturing nationals in Nicaragua and Venezuela after successfully exporting their model of repression, which is one of the factors driving many to flee those countries.

Now, the regimes in these three countries are coordinating the weaponization of migration to gain concessions from the United States, while also profiting from trafficking their nationals and causing chaos on the U.S.-Mexico border.

It has been compounded with the breakdown of law and order in Haiti following the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse in 2021 and an explosion in street violence leading many Haitians to seek refuge in the United States.

The refugees fleeing persecution are not to blame for the breakdown in border control. The Biden administration’s new policy punishes them while rewarding dictatorships for weaponizing migration by increasing their control over who can leave.

John Suarez is executive director of the Center for a Free Cuba.