Desperate Cubans and Haitians who try to land on Americas' beaches will be forced back to another country while officials consider their asylum pleas, homeland security chief Alejandro Mayorkas told a Senate hearing on July 27.
The policy effectively recreates President Donald Trump's successful "Remain in Mexico" policy that President Joe Biden halted on his first day in office.
But the revival of the Trump policies is only intended to preserve the media shield that is obscuring the administration's unpopular open-door policies on the Mexican border, said Rob Law, the director of regulatory affairs and policy at the Center for Immigration Studies.
"You can't hide the optics of people washing up on the glamorous beaches of Miami and Fort Lauderdale," said Law:
You can't hide that - but you can hide what's going on at the [Mexican] border by dispersing those [Cuban and Haitian] illegal aliens throughout the country, in the dead of night, on Greyhound buses or on government planes ... the media is refusing to show that stuff anymore.
Since January, Mayorkas's team has allowed more than 600,000 economic migrants to cross the Mexican border into Americans' workplaces and neighborhoods.
Mayorkas described his Haitian and Cuban policy - dubbed "Remain in the Caribbean" by critics - at a July 26 Senate hearing:
Senator, the laws that address a mass migration from Cuba, not only from Cuba, but Haiti as well, speak to the fact that that perilous journey should not be taken, that individuals will be interdicted, and if they make claims for relief, they will be taken elsewhere, not to the United States, but elsewhere for a referral for resettlement in safe third countries.
Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL), asked if the same rules are being applied to people coming across the Mexican border: "Is that the same thing that's happening on the southern border? Is that the same process?
"Senator, it is," Mayorkas said, before quickly pivoting:
It is slightly different for reasons of history and law, and actually, [is] in the interest of the security of the people who attempt [the boat journey].
We cannot say this strongly enough: That people should not take to the seas. Tragically we have recovered more than 20 individuals who died taking that dangerous journey. That is an incredibly important message of humanity, to not take to the seas.
Mayrokas's claim of similar treatment for boat and land migrants "is a blatant lie from the administration that acts as if it is above the law," said Law.
In June, Mayorkas's deputies allowed entry to 38,272 migrants from many countries - including Cuba and Haiti - which is up from just 4,036 in January. That inflow did not include the roughly 130,000 migrants from Mexico and Central America's Northern Triangle countries. Just 8,952 additional global migrants were barred and sent back to Meixco to try again, according to the agency data.
The inrush comes after Biden canceled Trump's Remain in Mexico policy, and also canceled Trump's like-minded "safe third" agreements with three Central American countries. The agreements would have minimized the likelihood and harm of future migration by sending current migrants back to the safe countries which they moved through on their way to the U.S. border.
Also, Law added, "it was a missed opportunity ... to actually have an opportunity of oversight to hold Mayorkas accountable."
In 1980, President Jimmy Carter suffered much political damage when he provided a legal welcome to more than 125,000 boat migrants from Haiti and Cuba.
The underlying objective of the Biden administration is to get as many economic migrants into the country as possible. But the one thing that they cannot deal with from a political standpoint is the public opposition to a wave of actual human beings washing up on the coast. That's the differentiator.
That's why they're willing to actually enforce the [border] law against Cubans and Haitians coming by boat, but they are willing to completely ignore the law, and in fact, to welcome them as long as they come through the preferred channel which is across the southern border.
Currently, the administration and its progressive and business allies have minimized TV coverage of the southern migration, Law added:
You're not seeing images of children being dropped from the top of the border wall any longer. It's not that that's not happening - it's just that the media is refusing to show that stuff anymore. [In March], there was enough of a backlash, so the Biden administration guys were saying [to the media] "You're making us look bad, we don't want to start advocating for Trump policies" ... So if you come through the border, or to the border, the media is not going to cover it or they're not going to cover it with vivid imagery.
There is no way to hide the fact of thousands upon thousands of Cubans and Haitians washing up on resort communities. That is inescapable and they know the political damage that will cause and that's the only reason why they want to get tough [on boat migrants]. From a [ideological] standpoint, they're all welcome as far as the Biden administration is concerned. But it's too much of a political risk for them [to accept boat migrants].