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Cuba’s foreign minister recently said the country would resume accepting Cuban nationals deported by the United States. Cuba stopped doing so during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Multiple U.S. presidential administrations have deported Cubans, including former President Donald Trump’s administration.
PolitiFact found no evidence the U.S. is deporting Cubans because they tend to vote Republican. Immigrants from all countries are deported if they are illegally in the United States.
The Cuban government recently agreed to resume accepting its citizens who have been deported from the U.S. after refusing to do so since early 2020, when the COVID-19 pandemic began.
But a viral Instagram video takes the news out of context, claiming the decision exposes President Joe Biden’s "open borders scheme." The U.S. border is not open.
"The Biden administration now says it’s going to start deporting illegals," former Newsmax host Grant Stinchfield said in the video posted Nov. 20, which features a screenshot of an NBC news article on this issue. "It says they’re going to start flying Cubans out of this country."
"Now either you deport everybody, or don’t deport anybody at all. The reason they’re deporting Cubans is because Cubans by and large are conservatives," Stinchfield said, adding that Cubans in the United States are escaping communism and socialism.
Stinchfield continued: "The Biden administration doesn’t want them anywhere near America. Because they know those Cubans would be voting Republican."
The post was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Meta, which owns Facebook and Instagram.)
Stinchfield’s claim misleads by ignoring several facts:
Deportation flights are resuming because the Cuban government agreed to accept its nationals;
Cubans who are being deported are in the U.S. illegally and therefore not eligible to vote;
The U.S. isn’t deporting only Cubans. The U.S. continuously deports people from all over the world.
Before 2017, unlike immigrants from most other countries, Cubans who touched U.S. soil without a visa were allowed to stay in the country and seek legal residency within a year. But if they were stopped at sea, they were deported. This was known as the "wet-foot, dry-foot policy," which began in 1995. Under the policy, the Cuban government agreed to accept deported Cubans stopped at sea by U.S. authorities.
The "wet-foot, dry-foot policy" ended in January 2017 during the Obama administration. And at that time, the Cuban government agreed to accept Cubans who had been deported by the U.S. after touching U.S. soil. This agreement continued under the Trump administration until early 2020, when Cuba stopped accepting deported Cubans during the COVID-19 pandemic.
In recent months, a large number of Cubans have been stopped by Border Patrol agents at the southern U.S. border. Agents encountered Cubans nearly 30,000 times in October, surpassed only by Mexicans, who were stopped about 67,000 times that month.
Most Cuban immigrants encountered at the border are let in under immigration law and allowed to apply for asylum. They are subject to deportation if they don’t pass Border Patrol’s "credible fear" asylum screening. During this screening, people are asked about fears of returning to their home countries and the potential of being harmed there.
This month, the U.S. State Department and Cuban officials met to discuss immigration issues under the U.S.-Cuba Migration Accords, a set of agreements from 1994 designed to discourage illegal immigration, provide protections for refugees and expand opportunities for legal immigration.
After the meetings in mid-November, Cuba’s Foreign Minister Carlos Fernández de Cossío said at a press conference that Cuba would resume receiving Cuban nationals deemed inadmissible into the United States.
"Cuba informed the U.S., some time ago, of our willingness to receive deportation flights," Cossío said Nov. 15. "We need to agree on the conditions and timing for these flights, which both parties hope will have some regularity, as part of the actions seeking to ensure migration is legal."
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has not released a public statement on this issue. The department also did not comment to PolitiFact on the record.
Stinchfield’s suggestion in the Instagram video that only Cuban immigrants are deported is wrong. U.S immigration authorities deport immigrants from every region of the world if they’re illegally in the country. In fiscal year 2022, U.S. Customs and Border Protection recorded more than 1.3 million expulsions and repatriations.
Authorities cannot deport every person who is in the U.S. illegally, because of limited resources, so they prioritize certain groups for deportation. High on the priority list are people who recently arrived in the country and convicted criminals.
Cuban Americans tend to vote Republican, Pew Research Center data shows. However, we found no evidence to support the claim that this leaning is why the Biden administration is deporting Cuban immigrants. Cubans were also deported under Republican administrations, including former President Donald Trump's.
We contacted Stinchfield to ask for evidence to support his claim.
"If the Biden administration is serious about deporting all illegals why is it solely focused on Cubans?" Stinchfield replied. "It is a well-known fact, Cubans lean right. Team Biden is clearly picking winners and losers when it comes to deportations."
Stinchfield cited a poll conducted by Florida International University before the midterm elections, which found that about 52% of Cuban American voters in Miami-Dade County, Florida, are registered as Republican compared with 21% who are registered as Democrats.
An Instagram video claims the Biden administration is deporting Cubans "because Cubans by and large are conservatives."
Cuba recently announced it will resume accepting Cuban nationals who have been deported from the United States. Cuba had stopped receiving deported Cubans during the pandemic.
Even though Cuban Americans tend to vote Republican, Cubans who are being deported are in the U.S. illegally and therefore ineligible to vote. We found no evidence that Cubans are being deported because of their political affiliation. Immigrants from all countries are deported if they are illegally in the United States.
We rate this claim False.
Email exchange, Grant Stinchfield, Nov. 23, 2022
Reuters, Cuba agrees to accept U.S. deportation flights as border crossings rise, Nov. 11, 2022
PolitiFact, Facebook post makes false claim about a lockdown, open borders, April 15, 2021
Instagram, post, Nov. 21, 2022
U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Nationwide encounters, accessed Nov. 22, 2022
The Whie House, Statement by the president on Cuban immigration policy, Jan. 12, 2017
Department of Homeland Security, 2020 Yearbook of Immigration Statistics, April 2022
U.S. State Department, Migration talks with the government of Cuba, Nov. 15, 2022
AP News, Migration talks mark progress in US-Cuba relations, Nov. 15, 2022
Pew Research Center, Most Cuban American voters identify as Republican in 2020, Oct. 2, 2020
PolitiFact, Nevada Republican misleads about DMV registering "illegals" to vote, Sept. 8, 2022
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