'If You Take to the Sea, You Will Not Come to the United States,' Cuban Refugee DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas Tells Other Cuban Refugees

Biden promised to be an immigration changemaker. Where is the change?


Department of Homeland (DHS) Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said yesterday that the agency is working to support Cuba and Haiti, with the former seeing widespread political protests amid the communist government's failure to provide basic supplies, and the latter in upheaval after the assassination of Haitian President Jovenel Moise.

That help will not include asylum—at least, if not sought in the "right" way. "Allow me to be clear: If you take to the sea, you will not come to the United States," Mayorkas said in a press conference. Those who do attempt to come to the U.S. by boat will be intercepted by the U.S. Coast Guard and sent back, while anyone lucky enough to finagle an asylum interview will be resettled elsewhere.

Mayorkas emphasized the deadly nature of that journey, perhaps hoping to deter a mass influx of people who would not survive it. But the message still strayed far from the spirit of President Joe Biden's campaign, which put immigration front and center as he repeatedly pledged to restore the sort of humanity he said was missing from former President Donald Trump's immigration program.

"If individuals…establish a well-founded fear of persecution or torture, they are referred to third countries for resettlement," said Mayorkas. "They will not enter the United States." As CBS News notes, that's not a change in U.S. policy, which has for decades sent migrants back when they are found at sea. Cuban migrants who attempt to cross at the U.S.-Mexico border have had better luck.

But Biden promised to be a changemaker, not only when it came to Trump's agenda, but also that of his former boss, President Barack Obama, who derisively became known as the "deporter-in-chief" for his mass expulsions. Having Mayorkas deliver the message is perhaps the most ironic aspect of all, as the DHS secretary came to the U.S. from Cuba as a refugee with his family in 1960.

The Biden administration's decision also comports with recent asylum protocol writ large. Migrants coming to the U.S. have a legal right to seek asylum, but those arriving at the U.S.-Mexico border are often forced to illegally cross and then find a government agent to file a claim, committing a crime in the process. The state can prosecute that crossing, as Trump did uniformly when he pursued a "zero tolerance" approach. Though Biden symbolically sunset that policy—it had already been put to rest by the Trump administration—it is still in many ways just as difficult to claim asylum.

"Except for a few months under Trump, this is one of the strictest border policies we've ever seen," David Bier told me in April.

Mayorkas's message is likely steeped in political optics, at least to some degree, as immigration continues to serve as a cudgel used by politicians and cable news hosts alike. In April, Biden announced he would keep Trump's low refugee cap in place after campaigning on doing the opposite. An administration official said that pivot came as an increase in unaccompanied migrant children overwhelmed the Office of Refugee Resettlement—which is not the agency that processes those minors. After a swell of pressure, Biden eventually reversed course.

But there are a number of other immigration promises that Biden has broken and not yet rectified. "There will not be another foot of wall constructed in my administration," he told NPR in August of last year. Of the lawsuits set in motion to seize private property for that wall, Biden promised, "End, end, end, stop, done, over. Not gonna do it. Withdraw the[m]. We're out." Eight months later, a federal judge approved the government's request to take land from the Cavazos family in Hildago County, Texas.

"We are utterly devastated," said Baudilia Cavazos. "We thought President Joe Biden would protect us."

The administration is also defending Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) after the agency erected a fake university and deported immigrant students without refunds after they paid tuition. "They're being crushed by that student debt. A lot of them used their families' savings to pay the [University of] Farmington tuition," Anna Nathanson, an attorney representing some of the students, told me in March. "Everyone I've spoken to is unfortunately having really severe mental health consequences still. People are really depressed. People tell me this made them suicidal. It's really, really bad."

It appears Biden has not yet been moved by that plea. Nor has he been moved far enough to grant asylum to the people of Cuba and Haiti, who are respectively fleeing an oppressive regime and a failed state run by murderous gangs. If the words inscribed on the Statue of Liberty—"Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free"—don't apply to people subject to communism and violent authoritarianism, then who do they apply to?

NEXT: Are Republicans Who Support New Voting Restrictions Racist or Just Partisan?

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  1. Paging Janet Reno.

    1. Tell us more about how surprising it is that the evil party would turn away Cubans:

      1. 2019 cheap undocumented nannies and gardeners – “Something something compassion orangemanbad”
        2021 Cuban refugees – Fucking traitorous hoarders and wreckers

  2. “Biden promised to be an immigration changemaker. Where is the change?”

    Biden liberated and dismantled Orange Hitler’s concentration camps. He’s already done enough for immigrants to deserve a Nobel Peace Prize.

    As far as Cuban refugees, sure, they would probably provide cost-effective labor for billionaire employers like’s benefactor Charles Koch. But there is another important angle to consider.

    We in the progressive / libertarian alliance also love immigration because we know it imports more Democratic voters. Our ultimate goal, of course, is to turn the entire country into a single-party Democratic state like California. Maybe these Cubans are projected not to vote Dem in high enough percentages to make them truly desirable immigrants.


    1. You’re right. He’s done at least as much as Obama to deserve a Peace Prize.

      1. I think I’m finally starting to get it. It’s the “peace” part that throws you off at first. You have to ignore that bit.

        Getting the DPRK to the negotiating table, achieving peace in the Balkans, achieving peace between Arabs and Jews, and between the US and the Taliban is practically Hitler.

        Getting “elected” as a Democrat achieves world peace and deserves a prize.

        1. “achieving peace between Arabs and Jews”

          That is an exaggeration, don’t you think? We still have a peacekeeping mission in Egypt, we have had troops there since the early 80s and we will continue to have troops there for infinity. There is no peace between the Arabs and the Jews and there never will be. There are a few leaders that will “roll over” and claim that they support peace, but you have to know that they are just doing it for whatever trinket is offered. Unless you have been to Egypt, Jordan, Iraq, and Israel, it is difficult to understand the level of hate that exists in that region. Remember what happened to Sadat?

          1. Yes it is. The accords between Egypt and Israel were brokered by Carter. A cold peace but better than a good war. Bill Clinton came close to a deal with the Palestinians. Arafat walked out and launched the intifada. Rabin was assassinated by a Jewish extremist. It is all downhill from there.

            Netanyahu has been working on normalizing relationships with the gulf states for years. There was never any real conflict there. They do not care for the islamists and see them as a threat. They are more than happy to do business with the Jews. Morocco was never an issue. Kushner gets some credit for diplomacy. Selling weapons to the UAE is a win win.

            The real problems in order are Iran, Iran, and Iran.

            1. Not Iraq? Not Syria? Not Libya? Not Turkey? Not Egypt? We just spent trillions of dollars to encircle Iran for nearly two decades. What did we gain? Iran didn’t come here and attack Canada and Mexico, then occupy both places for two decades. Are they the problem or are our politicians and greedy military Generals/ military industrial complex the problem? We sat on their border threatening them. There was no reason to attack Afghanistan or Iraq other than to threaten Iran.

    2. “Cuban Refugee DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas Tells Other Cuban Refugees”

      Billy rhetorically admits that he expects immigrants to America to be more loyal to immigrants from their home country than to Americans.


  3. “‘Allow me to be clear: If you take to the sea, you will not come to the United States,” Mayorkas said in a press conference.”‘

    Protectionist Democratic scum. Gee, whodathunkit?

    1. “I got mine” he said.

      1. I guess he figured out the “lifeboat problem.”

        1. “So what would you do if you’re in a lifeboat with 3 other people, and”
          “Shoot everyone else.”
          “But I haven’t even mentioned the starving yet!”
          “What does starving have to do with anything?”

    2. They say the same thing about the drug runners. The Coast Guard at Key West has thousands of miles to patrol. They can’t interdict even 1% of the drugs coming in, they will tell you that all day. Does this boob Mayorkas think that they now have the time to stop Cubans headed here by the thousands when the weather and currents are favorable?

  4. It’s really simple, and there’s no dancing around it – Cubans vote Republican. That’s it.

    1. Until they are Americanized then they become anti American.

      1. Yeah, but that first generation or two can be pretty knowledgeable of the hell that they left and exactly what make the US heaven on earth by comparison.

        The grandkids…. they have some some weird ideas about “the old country” and romantic notions of the good struggle of the peasants or some such dreck. The best thing most of them could do is be encouraged to go travel “home” and see exactly why grampa decided it was better to take his chances in the Straits of Florida in a laundry tub with the sharks than stay another day in Cuba.

    2. Plus the Democrats don’t want to embarrass an ideological ally.

    3. The ones that read instead of staring at teevee vote Libertarian.

      1. Libertarianism is a political and social philosophy, not a shitty American political party that nominates soft progs and failed liberals. Rand Paul is 100X more libertarian than JoJo or Johnson ever were.

        1. I don’t know what happened to Johnson. He was a really good governor. New Mexico really did well under his leadership. We actually had money in the bank for once. Of course, the next asshole who came along blew it all (and then some) on a useless toy train set, but that’s hardly Johnson’s fault.

          But yeah, he was kinda disappointing as a candidate for president.

  5. Ironically, Cubans arriving to the US by sea should be eligible for refugee status under relevant international law as the USA would likely be the nearest foreign country they can gain access to.

    The Biden administration having to renege on all their high minded BS rhetoric is satisfying.

    1. This right here actually does make a pretty big difference. There was no safe place to stop along the way that someone fleeing Cuba decided to skip because the benny’s are better if they kept moving.

      1. Economic migrants are the only legitimate asylum seekers. Since when has political persecution, and threats of reprisal by government, been grounds for refugee status?

        1. Particularly since political persecution and threats of reprisal by government have been Democratic Party policy since January sixth.

          1. All who do NOT agree that Ashli Babbitt is the new martyr, a sort of American Horst Wessel… THESE will be subjected to scorched-Earth reprisals!

            There’s a Word for What Trumpism Is Becoming
            The relentless messaging by Trump and his supporters has inflicted a measurable wound on American democracy.

            “The conversion of Ashli Babbitt into a martyr, a sort of American Horst Wessel, expresses the transformation. Through 2020, Trump had endorsed deadly force against lawbreakers: “When the looting starts, the shooting starts,” he tweeted on May 29, 2020. Babbitt broke the law too, but not to steal a TV. She was killed as she tried to disrupt the constitutional order, to prevent the formalization of the results of a democratic election.”

            1. Sicknick was your Horst Wessel, Sqrlsy, at least until your big fire extinguisher lie fell apart. You fascists held a big fancy funeral in the Rotunda and buried him as a martyr in Arlington.

              Babbit was just a random demonstrator you guys killed, because you’re authoritarian sociopaths.

              Kiss the Sicknick Blutfahne, Sqrlsy, you stupid Nazi fuck.

            2. If they can make a martyr and saint of George Fentanyl then It’s Ashli Babbit’s turn.

    2. That Reason cannot muster even performative outrage over the blatant double standard, while not satisfying, is certainly meeting all expectations.

      Libertarians my ass.

    3. +1
      Good point.

  6. Mayorkas knows which way they would vote.

  7. “Allow me to be clear: If you take to the sea, you will not come to the United States,”

    Someone isn’t familiar with prevailing currents in the Atlantic Ocean.

    1. Maybe he’s hoping that when they come back to Cuba, the refugees will tip the island over.

    2. Agreed. I lived in the Keys, during favorable currents and weather, there are people arriving every day. In the late 90s, if the Cubans made it to the beach(feet dry), they could stay. If they were interdicted in the water, they were sent back. When the Coast Guard approaches, watch the Cubans bail and try to swim for it.
      There were different rules for Haitians. They didn’t get the ‘feet dry” rule. They are all sent back.

      1. I just remember from elementary school that ocean currents move clockwise in the northern hemisphere.

      2. Wet feet/dry feet was a Bill Clinton policy. Bubba got turned out of office in AR in part because of the state having to take Mariel boatlift refugees.,_dry_feet_policy

        You have to imagine WJBC sitting in the Oval, thinking:
        Those SOBs cost me a term in the governor’s chair. I’ll
        be damned if they get to land in Florida and after a few years
        vote Republican!

  8. The “difference” is that we already can’t handle the influx of Central Americans flooding across our border with Mexico, and if order completely breaks down in both Cuba and Haiti, then, literally, millions of refugees will start flooding the beaches of Florida. It’ll make the Mariel boatlift look like a walk in the park.

    P.S. It was the policy of the United States to return all Cubans intercepted at sea back, either to Cuba or some third country, from early in the Clinton administration right up until several years ago at the tail end of the Obama administration.

    Our interventions and excursions in Haiti in recent decades have been about trying to prevent masses of refugees from flooding our borders, too, and the negative political consequences of that happening for whomever is in charge of the White House at the time are the same now as they’ve always been.

    What changed? Absolutely nothing–except maybe the gullibility of those who believed the election rhetoric of Democrat candidates time. Come to think of it, gullible journalists buying that hasn’t changed much over the course of decades either.

    1. “gullible journalists buying that hasn’t changed much over the course of decades either”

      Sullum isn’t gullible but those brown envelopes are too good to miss.

  9. Democrats managing to step all over the issue and ensuring the vote goes to the GOP in Florida. Whoever is controlling the messaging here is bad at their job.

  10. “Biden promised to be an immigration changemaker. Where is the change?”

    You guys might not believe this, but right here–in the United States of America–during an election campaign, no less, the Democrat nominee for president may have made promises that he never had any intention of keeping!!!

    Did anyone else here realize that was possible?

    How could we have known?

    1. In 2024, Democrats will be crowing that Biden did more work on The Wall than Trump did.

    2. How could we have known?

      Normally lips moving but in Biden’s case, hiding in the bunker, his 30+ year record will have to suffice.

    3. After election Biden fideled with his campaign promises.

    4. Lots of migration or visa promises to the governments buying Hunters artwork.

  11. Biden promised to be an immigration changemaker. Where is the change?

    Cuban refugees escaping socialism tend to vote Republican. That’s your immigration changemaking.

    1. People in socialist countries understand
      the danger. Can’t have them voting.

  12. Use Epstein’s Island to house them till we figure it out. Problem solved.

    1. Martha’s Vineyard.

      1. The restaurants and BnBs there would probably welcome some willing workers.

        For many businesses on-Island, the massive spike in visitor traffic is a double-edged sword, as some of the most popular establishments face a major staffing shortage, but still want to accommodate customers and sock away as much money as possible.

  13. Look at Florida. Cuban and Haitian immigrants vote Republican.
    Of course, if they can make it to Mexico, Biden will let them in with no problem.

  14. If someone hates Cuba enough to “take to the sea,” they’re presumably anti-communist–not the kind of immigrants the current admin wants

  15. It’s M.S. St. Louis all over again, only the itenerary has changed.

  16. How ironic, He’s replicating the response of the voyage of the St. Louis.

  17. Cubans and Syrian/Iraqi Christians in UN camps: Two bonafde actual refugee groups the Ds had no interest in admitting

    1. Killing Syrian Christians was a delight for your average American prog, but when the Daesh started targeting Shia and Yazidis it began to get embarrassing.
      Up here it was harder than hell for poor Justeen to bar the x-tian Syrian refugees but still allow all others, but he managed to pull it off. Hey, slavery is part of Salafist culture, and why should Trudeau deny them that?

  18. The change is in the names on the largest paychecks issued by the looter bureaucracy in question. This is why the entrenched alternation between religious nationalsocialism and less devout international socialism is called a “mixed” economy–at least since the 1971 Nixon anti-Libertarian law. The howling is just background noise.

  19. Well, if we could undo enough climate change we could drop sea level and Cubans could walk to the US like Guatemalans. That would be OK, right?

  20. This is your weekly, daily, articly reminder that you had a choice for a third party. If you didn’t exercise it then this is entirely your fault.

    1. This is your weekly, daily, articly reminder that you had a choice for a third party. If you didn’t exercise it then this is entirely your fault.

      Who? The leftist aping LP? get real.

  21. Its because Cubans are more likely to support real America (free market, limited govt) and become employed quickly and not be on the govt dole and not be 90% unwed mothers with many mouths for the local govts to feed. Basically don’t allow anyone in who would vote GOP but just Democratic..that is the game being played here. And Reason wokes don’t want to admit it..

  22. Where is China in all of this. Chairman Xi, dressed as Mao, just celebrated the 100 year communist revolution. Comrades no longer aid fellow comrades?

    1. Comrades Chou Bai-den and Ca Mah-la stand by the ready.

    2. Don’t call attention. I wouldn’t put it past Xi to buy the whole island.

  23. The Democrats certainly don’t want people that have experienced socialism/communism and hate it. They will never vote for socialism, i.e. Democrats!

  24. Have Reason writers come out in favor of the Communist government in Cuba yet? It seems like that’s the direction Reason is headed. Has Sullum posted a pro-Communism essay this week?

  25. It should be obvious to anyone with more than two operating brain cells, this administration is full on communist.
    Isn’t it odd this administration wants as many illegals as possible into the country, especially if they’re from south of the border (because they’ll vote democrat) but when those Cubans want to enjoy the freedoms we have in America compared to the communist tyranny in Cuba…..well, they’re not welcome. The reason of course is they are mostly conservative and will vote Republican nearly every time.
    We can’t have that. After all, how are the democrats going to maintain absolute power forever if more conservative voters take up residence in America. Only if you take in free loading future liberal voters with a mix of child molesters, rapists, thieves and murderers and other assorted criminals, which the democrats truly adore.
    So This DHS secretary exposes himself for what he is….a communist. Which is just alright with the Harris administration.

  26. It should be obvious to anyone with more than two operating brain cells, the Democratic Party is full on communist.

  27. It should be obvious to anyone with more than two operating brain cells, Reason is in the tank for the Democratic Party.

  28. It’s not surprising that an admin which is acting like their endgame might involve violent authoritarianism in the US wouldn’t see fleeing a violent authoritarian regime as justification for seeking asylum.

    Imagine what Cuban immigrants would think if they saw one of the “thank you President Biden” billboards that the DNC put up in a number of blue cities after the first 100 days of whoever has actually been in charge since the last inauguration.

  29. The Democrats cannot count on the Cuban vote — so Cubans don’t get the same welcome as the thousands of illegals entering through the southern border. It’s all about the votes.

  30. Odd, if I don’t sign in my comments don’t appear like everyone else’s comments. If I sign in it is there, at least to me. Reason shadow banning comments now?

  31. ‘If You Take to the Sea, You Will Not Come to the United States,’

    Yep. Go to the Mexico/U.S. border, and pretend to be a Guatemalan seeking asylum.

    1. Economic refugees are NOT given asylum. During WW2 Americans got better at interrogating prisoners than even during prohibition. Frivolous asylum claims are ferreted out and illiterate economic refugees sent packing. Imaginary fears then become the Hail-Mary pass the wretches expect will induce pity and thwart the law on appeal. Immigration judges are thus burdened with these cases, a tiny fraction of which make it back to DHS Square One to further clog the bureaucracy with make-work. Guess who pays for this?

      1. Oh, come on. All Guatemalans who come across the border are being threatened by gangs at home. It’s right there in the script.

  32. “Biden promised to be an immigration changemaker. Where is the change?”

    No more mean tweets! Who’d you vote for, Binion?

  33. The Kleptocracy is the same tag team that appeared on the cover or Reason back when Clinton was running. GOP Trump-treuen were defeated by women voters. But Drug Commissar Biden, whose 1986 asset-forfeiture prohibitionism caused the 1987 crash foretelling the 1992 collapse, is still a shoot-first prohibitionist looter. GOP Trump-treuen need to bring back the Don so folks will ignore the anarchist-infested LP and fight Whutzername. And so the Kleptocracy seesaws and euchres out competitors and their pesky planks.

  34. Elsewhere in Reason

    “Are republicans who support voting laws racists?”

    And a few months ago, in subdued tone

    “Pandemic aid that goes only to BIPOC are unconstitutional”

    Brrrr! Republicans bad! Get rid of them so the left can crush libertarians!

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