The Obama administration has promoted the use of deportations to resolve a growing refugee crisis in Colombia, Ecuador, and Central America, as more and more Cubans flee the human rights violations and deplorable economic conditions of their native land, emboldened by Obama’s “normalization” process with Cuba.
The move to promote deportations of refugees fleeing an oppressive political system stands in stark contrast to the pro-immigrant message of the Democratic Party in general and President Barack Obama in particular during this week’s Democratic National Convention.
An unnamed State Department official told Miami’s El Nuevo Herald that deporting refugees back to Cuba could be part of the solution to clear thousands of Cuban nationals stranded in Central and South America, looking to travel north to the United States. “It is possible that we will have to get involved with the Central American and Mexican governments to promote the idea of a secure, orderly, legal migration or restricting or repatriating irregular immigrants,” the official said, referring to the refugees.
A State Department spokesman told the newspaper in November that “all nations have the responsibility to… control borders,” including “ensuring that undocumented travelers cannot transit and that undocumented immigrants be returned appropriately to their place or origin.”
The State Department did not confirm whether mass deportations of refugees is considered a possible solution to the Cuban refugee crisis in Central America, Colombia, and Ecuador, instead issuing a statement of “concern for the security of all migrants in the region.”
As president, Barack Obama has imposed policies that have made the deportation of individual illegal immigrants — not mass deportation of refugees — extremely difficult. President Obama’s “priority enforcement program,” an ICE official confirmed to Congress in May, had made the deportation of illegal immigrations involved in criminal activity a challenge.
During the Democratic National Convention, which featured two illegal immigrant speakers from Mexico, President Obama assured listeners that nominee Hillary Clinton would “insist on a lawful and orderly immigration system while still seeing striving students and their toiling parents as loving families, not criminals or rapists.”
Hillary Clinton’s immigration policy supports an up to 500 percent increase in the number of refugees allowed into the country from Syria, a war-torn country plagued with various jihadist factions, whose government has no way of screening those fleeing.
While the Cuban government has a history of supporting Islamic terrorism, particularly the Iran-backed terrorist group Hezbollah, Cuban nationals have no significant record of jihadi activity, as Cuba itself has a negligible Muslim population. In the United States, a majority of Cubans speak fluent English and Cubans enjoy higher rates of education and home-ownership than most Latin Americans, according to the Pew Research Center.
President Obama also boasted that his administration had “opened up a new chapter with the people of Cuba.”
As part of President Obama’s new policy towards Cuba, Raúl Castro’s regime insisted it would not “move one millimeter” on human rights. Pocketing millions in foreign investments and salaries stolen from Cuban nationals through a new “tax” law, the Cuban regime has been emboldened in beating, arbitrarily detaining, and torturing dissidents. Over 300 dissidents were arrested in the weekend President Obama visited Cuba in March. 21 Cuban dissidents are currently on hunger strike to protest the violence, including EU Sakharov Human Rights Prize winner Guillermo Fariñas.
On the high seas, the U.S. Coast Guard has signaled the normalization process as having triggered a surge in refugees seeking to navigate to Florida. In July, statistics showed a 500 percent increase in the number of Cubans braving the journey.
Nations like Colombia, Ecuador, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, and Panama have also come under the strain of thousands of refugees flocking to them. Over 2,000 Cubans have reached Colombia this year alone, with 2,814 being deported — a sign that Colombia is heeding the advice of the State Department. Ecuador, a political ally of Cuba, has also been increasing the number of deportations on a weekly basis back to Cuba.
While the Obama administration has not publicly supported deportations of Cuban refugees in the United States, at least one high-profile refugee has been threatened with deportation back to Cuba: Ramón Saúl Sánchez, the head of the Democracy Movement based in Miami. The movement dedicates its efforts to rescuing Cuban rafters on the high seas and providing them humanitarian aid when the land ashore. Despite being in the United States for 49 years legally, Sánchez recently received a letter from the U.S. government warning he will soon be deported.