Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayokras on Thursday warned those fleeing Haiti and Cuba amid unrest not to attempt to reach the U.S. by boat.
“Allow me to be clear: If you take to the sea, you will not come to the United States,” Mayorkas said in an appearance on CNN.
Mayorkas's comments come after the assassination of Haitian President Jovenel Moïse has left a power vacuum in the country and as Cubans took to the streets in rare protests in the communist country, complaining of food shortages and a worsening economy.
Mayorkas, a Cuban American who fled the island nation as a child with his parents, called the statement a “humanitarian message” when asked about his own journey to the U.S.
“It is a long-standing message from the United States, and the reality of it is that when people take to the sea, they put their lives in tremendous peril. Just in the last few weeks, we have seen approximately 20 people lose their lives by taking to the sea,” he said, reiterating a call made from the Coast Guard on Tuesday. “It is extraordinarily dangerous. It is not worth the risk, and consistent with long-standing practice, people will be returned. One cannot take to the sea and come to the United States, it won't work.”
Homeland Security Secretary Mayorkas on discouraging Cubans and Haitians from fleeing to the US: "It is a long-standing message from the United States. The reality of it is that when people take to the sea, they put their lives in tremendous peril ... It is not worth the risk" pic.twitter.com/9lYctnfVDL— New Day (@NewDay) July 15, 2021
Former President ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaDemocrats make final plea for voting rights ahead of filibuster showdown Biden nominates Jane Hartley as ambassador to UK To boost economy and midterm outlook, Democrats must pass clean energy bill MORE ended the decades-long “wet foot, dry foot” policy that allowed Cubans who reached the U.S. shoreline to remain and seek an expedited path to U.S. citizenship.
Mayorkas said, regardless of nationality, anyone attempting to reach the U.S. by boat would be returned to their home country, or, if they can make a credible claim of persecution, will be sent to a third country.