Florida Republicans Slam Department of Homeland Security After Cuban Officials Were Allowed to Tour “Sensitive” Areas of Miami Airport

By: Julia Mehalko | Published: May 23, 2024

Florida Republicans have slammed the Department of Homeland Security after they gave Cuban officials a tour of the Miami International Airport — and this tour included an inspection of so-called “sensitive” areas of the airport.

Now, many Florida lawmakers are calling for this incident to be investigated. They want their questions answered about what Cuban officials were able to see during this tour.

A Miami Tour

According to reporting by CBS News Miami, federal officials gave Cuban government officials a five-hour tour of the Miami International Airport.

Many people walking around the Miami airport with their luggage.

Source: Daniel Lee/Unsplash

This tour included various areas of the airport, including what is often considered sensitive areas. This comprised a tour of a baggage screen and security checkpoint area.


Republican Outrage

After this reporting was revealed, many Florida Republicans were outraged to learn what the Department of Homeland Security allowed to happen in their state.

Palm trees in front of the ocean with many boats in it, with the Miami, Florida skyline seen in the distance.

Source: Denys Kostyuchenko/Unsplash

They have subsequently called on Congress to answer many of these questions about why this tour was allowed.

State Sponsored Terrorism

Representative Carlos Gimenez, a Florida Republican, has been one of the most outspoken lawmakers calling out the federal government for this tour.

The official portrait of Carlos Gimenez, standing in front of an American flag.

Source: Public Domain/Wikimedia Commons

According to Gimenez, this tour never should have happened, as the Cuban government is considered to sponsor terrorism.

Protecting Americans From Terrorism

Gimenez further explained that this tour never should have happened, especially as reporting has suggested that these officials were given access to the airport’s sensitive areas.

The inside of the Miami airport seen with signs and windows.

Source: Daniel Lee/Unsplash

Gimenez said, “You are taking agents from a country which is on the list of state sponsors of terrorism. And you’re showing them our procedures and our equipment and our sensitive areas that protect the American public from terrorism. So how does that make sense?”

Florida’s Cuba Community

Gimenez also pointed out that many Cuban exiles call Florida their home. To him, this tour is a slap in the face to these exiles.

People walking on the beach amid palm trees with tall buildings in the back in Miami, Florida.

Source: aurora.kreativ/Unsplash

“You’re taking agents of the Cuban Communist Party and showing them the TSA equipment and procedures at Miami International Airport, where there’s a community of over a million Cuban exiles, that were exiled due to that same regime. It’s a slap in the face of that community,” Gimenez explained.


Cuban Independence Day

Even more worryingly to Gimenez is the fact that this tour occurred on May 20th, Cuban Independence Day.

A Cuba flag seen on a pole in front of a Havana beach.

Source: Robin Canfield/Unsplash

Gimenez added, “You’re also doing it on May 20th. May 20th is the equivalent of July 4th here. So it’s Cuban Independence Day, you’re doing it in Miami, and you’re showing it to who? The agents of the regime that have been oppressing the Cuban people for over 60 years.”


A Letter to Mayorkas

This outrage led to many Florida Republican lawmakers sending a letter to DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, as well as TSA Administrator David Pekoske.

Marco Rubio speaking while holding a microphone.

Source: Gage Skidmore/Wikimedia Commons

Gimenez led this letter, while Senators Marco Rubio and Rick Scott were also included. Representatives Mario Diaz-Balart and Maria Elvira Salazar also signed it.


Another Cuban Tour

In this letter, Republican lawmakers also pointed out that the federal government gave other tours to Cuban officials in the past.

The U.S. Capitol building seen in the daytime underneath a blue sky.

Source: Chad Stembridge/Unsplash

Tours between the two countries were conducted at the U.S. Coast Guard headquarters last year. A visit to Wilmington, North Carolina had also previously taken place.


Giving Cuba Access To Secure U.S. Areas

According to these lawmakers’ letter, federal U.S. officials have given Cuba access to various sensitive and secure areas of the country.

A plane’s wing seen on the tarmac of a Miami airport in the daytime.

Source: Éber Gustavo/Unsplash

The letter states, “Under your watch, Cuban operatives have again accessed sensitive, secure areas within the U.S. transportation system. Yet again, Congress must step in to prevent your Department and the Biden Administration from hosting individuals from a country which our Department of State has listed as a SSOT since 2021.”


The Response to Republican Lawmakers

The TSA has already responded to these allegations, with a spokesperson explaining that the TSA “routinely works with all countries with direct flights to the United States.”

A plane parked on the tarmac of the Miami International Airport.

Source: Andrés Dallimonti/Unsplash

The TSA also explained that Cuban officials never accessed any sensitive technology. These officials instead simply saw an overview of airport security — and only saw areas that regular people can see when in the airport.


Democrat Reaction

Republicans weren’t the only Florida lawmakers shocked at this move. Florida Democrats, such as Representative Frederica Wilson, said that Cuban officials and the Cuban government shouldn’t have any place in the U.S. government.

The official portrait of Representative Frederica Wilson standing in front of an American flag.

Source: Public Domain/Wikimedia Commons

Meanwhile, Democratic Miami-Dade County Mayor Danielle Levine Cava and Miami City Manager Emilio González also called out this tour.