New parole program opens safe route to some migrants
Homeland Security: Cubans, Haitians must come by air, not sea, or face deportation
Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas warned that Cubans and Haitians who illegally come to the United States by boat will be disqualified from applying to a recently announced parole program, a public declaration that follows a wave of migrant landings in the Florida Keys.
“Cubans and Haitians who take to the sea and land on U.S. soil will be ineligible for the parole process and will be placed in removal proceedings,” said Mayorkas in a tweet on Wednesday evening.
Mayorkas’ tweet is not a new policy announcement from the federal government. But it’s an attempt by the agency’s top official to deter maritime migration as hundreds of Cubans and Haitians have landed in the Florida Keys since late December, as well as an endorsement for migrants to apply to the new parole program for Haiti, Cuba and Nicaragua announced on Jan. 5.
Mayorkas warned that the Coast Guard and
Customs and Border Protection were actively patrolling the Florida Straits and Caribbean waters for migrants, who would be sent back home if they were caught at sea.
“Irregular maritime migration aboard unseaworthy or overloaded vessels is always dangerous, and often deadly,” Mayorkas said. “We are steadfast in our commitment to saving lives and discouraging anyone from taking to the sea to irregularly migrate.”
Since Oct. 1, the beginning of the federal fiscal year, Border Patrol agents have come across over 240 migrant landings and more than 4,000 migrants in South Florida. Meanwhile, the Coast Guard interdicted 4,962 Cubans and 1,199 Haitians at sea during that same period.
Under the new parole program, people from Haiti, Nicaragua and Cuba can fly to the United States if they have a financial sponsor in the country and if they pass the required medical and background checks. The agency announced a similar parole process for Venezuelans in October. The United States will parole up to 30,000 people a month through the programs.
Officials hope the programs will curb irregular migration from Cuba, Haiti, Venezuela and Nicaragua, which all increased in the last fiscal year.