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Foreign Affairs

South Florida Republicans Ask DHS Secretary About Policy on Cuban Migrants

At the end of last week, three Republicans representing South Florida in Congress–U.S. Reps. Mario Diaz-Balart, Carlos Gimenez and Maria Elvira Salazar – sent a letter to DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, once again expressing their concern regarding the apparent shift in U.S.-Cuba policy and requesting that the Biden administration implement a system where family members and legal representatives can find the whereabouts and information of Cuban migrants interdicted at sea.

The letter is below.

“Dear Secretary, Mayorkas,

As I have expressed several times, I am profoundly concerned by the Biden Administration’s apparent shift in U.S.-Cuba policy, including the agreement with the regime in Cuba to increase repatriations of Cuban nationals to totalitarian Cuba.

One unfortunate consequence of the administration’s increase in repatriations has been a corresponding increase in family members seeking information regarding their loved ones interdicted at sea. Currently, there is no efficient and timely way for family members or their legal representatives to verify their location and basic details of their cases.

This is a fixable problem. The United States government has addressed this issue for individuals in U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) custody through the Online Detainee Locator System (ODLS). ODLS is a publicly available online system that allows the public to search for persons to determine whether they are detained by ICE and if so, at which facility they are located. By making the information available in this way, family members and legal representatives are able to find basic information without draining crucial resources or manpower from already strained and overworked agencies.

The administration’s apparent agreement with the Cuban regime to ramp up deportations of Cuban nationals seeking freedom has many unfortunate repercussions. At the very least, as interdictions and repatriations increase, I believe that it would be beneficial to those fleeing Cubans, their family members, and their legal representatives to have timely, accurate information on whether they have been interdicted, their location, and other basic facts of their case.

For these reasons I request, within all applicable rules and regulations, that you consider implementing a system similar to ODLS for Cuban nationals interdicted at sea, or otherwise in U.S. custody through situations not currently covered by the ODLS.

Thank you for your attention to this matter of utmost importance.


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