Expect Cuba and Cuban Americans to be in the news when Joe Biden takes office as president and begins to try to get his cabinet nominees approved.
If selected, Alejandro Mayorkas will be the first immigrant and first Latino to lead the Department of Homeland Security. He was born in Cuba and grew up in California. He is being positioned as someone who brings more experience to the job than his predecessors, in whose terms immigration issues were highly politicized.
The other cabinet nominee is Antony Blinken, Rubio’s pick to be secretary of state. The Tampa Bay Times reports that Blinken is likely to face opposition from Florida Sen. Marco Rubio over an Obama-era issue involving Cuba. Six years ago, Blinken faced questions from Rubio, a member of the Senate’s Foreign Relations Committee who is Cuban-American. Rubio asked whether there would be unilateral decisions in the executive branch to relax restrictions on Cuba. Rubio opposed them.
Blinken said that would have to be done according to the law and in consultation with the committee. However, the day after Blinken was confirmed, President Barack Obama lifted some restrictions against Cuba and said the United States would re-establish an embassy there after an absence of 50 years. When Trump took office, he moved to harden U.S. policy with Cuba again.
Blinken will see Rubio at this round of confirmation hearings.