Miami International Airport
Miami International Airport Reuters / CARLOS BARRIA

Miami Republicans announced plans to introduce legislation aimed at blocking Cuban delegations from visiting U.S. airports. The initiatives follow uproar caused by such a visit to Miami International Airport this week, which drew largely unanimous condemnation from local officials.

U.S. Rep. Carlos Giménez, former Miami mayor and chair of the House Homeland Security subcommittee on transportation and maritime security, said he will introduce a bill to ban visits from countries included in the U.S. list of state sponsors of terrorism. He also seeks to have TSA director David Pekoske to testify about the visit at a hearing. According to Giménez, Pekoske told him he wasn't aware of the visit. This month, the U.S. removed Cuba from the list of countries "not cooperating fully" to fight against terrorism.

U.S. Rep. Mario Díaz-Balart, on his end, said he would work to block such visits through an appropriations process where Congress manages the federal budget for different agencies.

It is not the first time officials seek such measures. Last year, Gímenez and Senator Marco Rubio introduced a bill banning Cuban officials from touring port facilities after news arose of such an event.

This week, officials from the Caribbean country were granted access by federal agencies to inspect a TSA checkpoint and baggage screening area at the airport.

As reported by Axios, MIA director Ralph Cutie said the federal agencies did not inform him or Mayor Daniella Levine-Cava about the tour, adding that "as a Cuban American and native Miamian, I'm appalled that this took place."

Levine Cava, on her end, said her office contacted the Department of Homeland Security to get answers and request county involvement in "any future decisions regarding granting access to MIA facilities to foreign government officials."

She later added that "the agencies apologized and committed to changing their protocols to ensure we are informed before any other foreign delegations tour our airport."

The officials' visit happened during Cuban Independence Day, something that furthered angered Cuban-American members of the Miami Dade County Commission.

Republican Commissioner Raquel Regalado said that "the fact that they did it on the day that they did it just proves that it was done to be hurtful and to make a point and to try to hurt the Cuban community."

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