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Homeland Security chief warns Cubans and Haitians not to come to U.S. by sea

A man speaks to the media
Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro N. Mayorkas, pictured June 25, 2021.
(Jacquelyn Martin / Associated Press)

Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro N. Mayorkas warned Cubans and Haitians not to try to come to the United States illegally by sea and said they would not be allowed in.

The warning comes as Cuba is seeing rare protests nationwide and Haiti is facing a political crisis in the aftermath of the assassination of its president.

“Any migrant intercepted at sea, regardless of their nationality, will not be permitted to enter the United States,” Mayorkas said at a news conference.

The Department of Homeland Security is closely monitoring from the air for any increase in either incoming or outgoing “unsafe and irregular” traffic throughout the Florida Straits amid unrest in the Caribbean, he said. “We have not seen a surge at this time.”

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Three Department of Homeland Security officials joined an interagency delegation to Haiti on Sunday to assess the security situation, and the Coast Guard recently sent two cutters to the coast of Haiti, Mayorkas said.

“DHS is working with our partners to support the Haitian and Cuban people. The Coast Guard, along with our state, local and federal partners, are monitoring any activity that may indicate increases in unsafe and irregular maritime migration in the Florida Straits, including unpermitted vessel departures from Florida to Cuba,” he said.

“The time is never right to attempt migration by sea. To those who risk their lives doing so, the risk is not worth taking. Allow me to be clear: If you take to the sea, you will not come to the United States,” Mayorkas said.

The Coast Guard, which maintains a continual presence in the Florida Straits and the Caribbean Sea, recently sent two cutters to the coast of Haiti, in addition to three others already in nearby waters, he said.

“The United States Coast Guard has deployed air assets to be able to monitor the situation with great visibility from the air. We have not observed a surge in efforts to take to the seas,” Mayorkas said.

“We have seen, of course, as we have seen historically, some people make the mistake of attempting that perilous journey. Those individuals are interdicted and returned to Cuba or Haiti,” he said. “But we have not seen a surge at this time. And we are well-equipped to address the level that we have observed, and we are well-positioned to address any increase, including a surge.”


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