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VICTOR JOECKS: Amnesty-happy Biden won’t welcome Cuban refugees

President Joe Biden has finally found a group of immigrants he wants to keep out of the United States — Cuban refugees.

A week ago, Cubans started a series of protests against the communist dictatorship that runs their country. On Monday, Biden put out a statement of support.

“We stand with the Cuban people and their clarion call for freedom,” it read. Biden acknowledged that Cubans have suffered from “decades of repression” caused “by Cuba’s authoritarian regime.” Biden called for the Cuban government to respect the “right of peaceful protest and the right to freely determine their own future government.”

To the surprise of no one, the Cuban dictatorship ignored that advice. Instead, it cracked down, arresting more than 100 people, according to news accounts. Authorities even nabbed a journalist during a live video interview. The government limited internet access, hoping censorship would stymie the protests.

Any protester who successfully escaped from Cuba would to have a strong case for asylum. Immigrants are eligible for asylum if “they have suffered persecution or fear that they will suffer persecution due to” their “political opinion,” according to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. Furthermore, Cuban refugees have long had a special pathway to permanent residency under the Cuban Adjustment Act of 1966. Also, for more than 20 years, the U.S. government allowed Cubans who made it to U.S. soil a special path to citizenship. That policy expired in 2017.

Along the southern border, Biden has all but laid out the proverbial red carpet for illegal immigrants. He allowed unaccompanied minors to remain in the United States. Predictably, that created a massive surge in unaccompanied minors.

He ended former President Donald Trump’s successful “remain in Mexico” policy. Biden’s administration released more than 60,000 migrants into the country. The system is so overwhelmed that some didn’t even receive court dates.

But the Biden White House is less welcoming to potential Cuban refugees. “Allow me to be clear, if you take to the sea, you will not come to the United States,” Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said Tuesday. He added, “If individuals establish a well-founded fear of persecution or torture, they are referred to third countries for resettlement.”

But if Cuban refugees learn they won’t be allowed to stay in the United States after risking their lives to come here, fewer will make the treacherous journey. Many of the actions Trump took to slow the influx of illegal immigrants were based on the same logic.

Trump, however, was an immigration hawk, who was especially opposed to illegal immigration. Biden unveiled a massive amnesty proposal on the first day in office. Why would Biden apply a stricter standard to Cubans fleeing political persecution than he does to illegal immigrants seeking better job opportunities? Cuban refugees qualify for amnesty. Those seeking better economic opportunities don’t.

One possibility is that the Biden administration wants to prevent Cubans from drowning at sea. That would be a legitimate concern. Over the years, many have.

But people die crossing the southern border illegally, too. Others experience abuses, including sexual assault, extortion and kidnapping. Biden’s de facto open-borders policy has enriched Mexican drug cartels, which have found human trafficking to be profitable business.

Clearly, Biden doesn’t prioritize the travel safety of immigrants.

But this might explain the double standard: Cuban-American voters are almost twice as likely to be Republicans as non-Cuban Hispanics. Those voters are also concentrated in politically important Florida.

Biden loves amnesty. But he’s far less welcoming of those he thinks will one day join his political opposition.

Contact Victor Joecks at vjoecks@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-4698. Follow @victorjoecks on Twitter.

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