Washington, DC – Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas has vowed to turn Haitian and Cuban refugees away if they travel to the U.S. by boat.
Mayorkas issued the warning on Tuesday while emphasizing the dangerousness of crossing the Florida Straits and the Caribbean Sea, CBS News reported.
No exceptions will be made – even for those who have fled out of fear of being tortured or persecuted in their countries of origin, he said.
“Allow me to be clear: if you take to the sea, you will not come to the United States,” reiterated Mayorkas, who fled the island nation of Cuba with his family in 1960.
He said U.S. Coast Guard will intercept vessels trying to reach the U.S. by sea and will turn them around immediately, CBS News reported.
Those who do end up landing interviews with U.S. officials will be redirected to other countries, he noted.
“If individuals make, establish a well-founded fear of persecution or torture, they are referred to third countries for resettlement,” Mayorkas said. “They will not enter the United States.”
His warning came in the midst of upheaval in both Cuba and Haiti.
Meanwhile, the July 7 assassination of Haiti President Jovenel Moise has sparked even more political upheaval in the impoverished nation of 11 million people, according to CBS News.
Human Rights First Associate Director of Research and Analysis Kennji Kizuka blasted Mayorkas’ warning and alleged the U.S. is “using this system of off-shore processing to evade our refugee protection laws,” CBS News reported.
“They should allow people to land in the United States and go through their full asylum proceedings,” Kizuka opined.
The U.S. has intercepted 313 Haitians and 470 Cubans at sea so far in fiscal year 2021, CBS News reported.
A total of 49 Cubans and 430 Haitians were intercepted in the entirety of fiscal year 2020.