Florida Democratic leaders on Monday urged Republican congressmen, including Marco Rubio and Mario Diaz-Balart, to intercede with President Donald Trump to save “thousands” of Cubans from deportation and criticized the fact that these repatriations are increasing during the current administration.
Floridian state senator of Cuban origin José Javier Rodríguez asked himself “if they as Republicans no longer believe that there is political persecution in Cuba” in a statement to Efe during an event held at the Miami Freedom Tower.
Rodriguez was surprised that congressmen like Rubio and Diaz-Balart, both of Cuban origin, do not join the Democrats to avoid deportations and the obstruction of political asylum to Cubans, especially with the influence they have on Trump.
Frank Mora, who was deputy assistant secretary of defense during Barack Obama’s administration and is now director of the Latin America and Caribbean Institute at Florida International University (FIU), also spoke in the same vein.
Mora said the “priority” of the Trump administration is to deport as much as possible, which includes Cubans and Venezuelans who cannot return to their home countries for fear of reprisals.
“There is a double discourse (regarding the Republicans): we support Venezuela, we support Cuba, we are with the people, but we deport their citizens. There is is a policy of failure towards Cuba and Venezuela, because change has not taken placce, and there are deportations,” he told Efe Mora.
Both criticized the “silence” of state and federal congressmen. “It seems that they are hidden, frankly there is total silence, even those who have influence with the president could have some pressure to keep this happening, but they don’t have it,” Mora said.
“It’s embarrassing that there are so many abandoned Cubans in Mexico,” he added.
During a press conference organized by the Florida Democratic Party in front of the Freedom Tower in downtown Miami, they both alluded to the recent deportation of 120 Cubans to the island, which is just one part of the hundreds Trump has sent out of the country.
Mora clarified that from 64 deportees during the last fiscal period of the Obama administration (2009-2017) to 463 in fiscal year 2018 and 560 during the current one, which ends this September 30, and “continue to increase, and there are thousands of detainees, or waiting in Mexico to be processed”.
Both criticized Trump’s failure to prioritize criminals and emphasized that “all” of the 64 deported by Obama had criminal records.
Mora also denounced that the Trump government has “frozen” in the last two years a program that annually allows the arrival in the United States of 200,000 Cubans known as “parole”.
The Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) reported last week on the “largest” group of Cubans expelled from the country, made up of 120 people, thanks to a joint statement by the Obama Administration and the Cuban government, by which it is obliged to receive them.
ICE emphasized at the time that only one of the 120 returnees had a record. He was sentenced to more than 40 years in prison for kidnapping, sexual assault and drug trafficking.
Senator Rodriguez and Mora pointed out that most of the Cubans deported are not criminals and many of them have even been in the United States for years.
The case of Cuban exile leader Ramon Saul Sanchez, of the Democracy Movement, who fears repatriation after years of living in the U.S. because the authorities have refused to regularize his situation was mentioned by both of them.