MIAMI (Sept. 6, 2018) – Alex Sosa Vidaurrieta, member of the Cuban Patriotic Union (UNPACU) and the Orlando Zapata National Resistance Front, was deported back to Cuba this morning. Sosa fled Cuba after receiving numerous death threats from State Security. He fled Cuba and traveled through Mexico to the Brownsville, Texas port of entry where he turned himself in to CBP and asked for asylum. He was detained for four months at Pine Prairie Correctional Facility, where his request for asylum was denied by a judge in June.
After much searching by family and friends, an immigration attorney affiliated with the nonprofit organization Cubans Without Borders agreed to look into Alex’s case and give him a fighting chance at staying in the US. Alex was assigned September 7 as the visitation day that the attorney could visit and consult with him at Pine Prairie. However, that meeting never happened due to Alex being transferred to another federal correctional facility in Alabama on September 4. Was this a terrible coincidence and lack of communication within the ICE bureaucracy? Or was it an intentional attempt by that same bureaucracy to enforce a policy goal at all costs? The Institute may never know.
Alex was deported to Cuba the morning of September 6, 2018. Libertarians and ex-political prisoners on the ground in Cuba say Alex is most likely headed to the Villa Marista prison in Havana or La Tercera Unidad de Montecarlo (El Técnico) prison in Camagüey. In the prison his life will be in danger, as it’s a regular practice of Cuba’s Ministry of the Interior to mix political prisoners in the general population with violent offenders. Violent offenders serving long sentences are then paid off by State Security and the guards with privileges and concessions in exchange for carrying out assassinations disguised as common prison fights, wherein the dissident’s death is written off as an accident.
The wet-foot-dry-foot policy that guaranteed asylum and residency to virtually all Cubans who made it to the United States was canceled by President Obama in January of 2017, weeks before the end of his presidency. Obama’s administration also deported 29% more undocumented immigrants than the Bush administration. Since Donald Trump has become president, the Trump administration has taken a more bellicose attitude towards all immigration, not just illegal. Even US tourism to Cuba is severely restricted today compared to two years ago.
The reality of the times is that the Trump administration is beholden to a xenophobic nationalistic support base. The US was once a safe haven for refugees fleeing from communist countries, especially Cuba. In the 21st Century, Cubans and other Latino refugees are the new Okies fleeing their own dust bowls. As of August 2018, 37,000 Cubans in the US await their deportation. The most predictable likelihood is that, for the near future, the Trump administration will continue to appease its support base even at the cost of delivering political refugees to Stalinist governments.
This creates a moral dilemma for Cuban exiles in Miami, who overwhelmingly vote Republican. Some Republican congressmen expressed concerns over the recent scandal of ICE’s child prisons at the Mexican border, but their resistance to the policy is sorely lacking. If Cuban-American Republicans do not mobilize to leverage their political power and reinstate the wet-foot-dry-foot policy, then they become complicit at the ballot box in the systematic deportation of political refugees right into the hands of communist governments.
Image by US Immigration and Customs Enforcement