Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas on Tuesday warned would-be migrants from Cuba and Haiti against trying to reach the United States illegally by sea.
He said the voyage is too dangerous and they will not be allowed to enter.
‘Let me be clear: If you take to the sea, you will not come to the United States,’ Mayorkas said at a news briefing.
Coast Guard officials are monitoring by air and have not seen a surge in migrants since the unrest in Cuba and the assassination of Haiti’s president last week, he said.
Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas on Tuesday warned would-be migrants from Cuba and Haiti against trying to reach the United States illegally by sea
A Tuesday protest in the Little Havana neighborhood of Miami, Florida following large demonstrations Sunday in Cuba
Lucy Brigman, with megaphone, leads chants against the communist regime in Cuba during a rally Tuesday in Miami
U.S. officials were prepared to deal with any surge, he added.
Mayorkas, whose family fled the Communist takeover of Cuba, said the issue had personal significance to him. He also stressed the danger of the journey.
‘This risk is not worth taking,’ he said.
President Joe Biden said Monday that he stands with the ‘remarkable’ Cuban protesters and ‘their clarion call for freedom’ amid demonstrations that brought thousands to the streets from Havana to Santiago on Sunday.
‘The Cuban people are demanding their freedom from an authoritarian regime. I don’t think we’ve seen anything like these protests in a long long time if, quite frankly ever,’ the president said at the top of a meeting in the Roosevelt Room. ‘The US stands firmly with the people of Cuba as they assert their universal rights. And we call on the government of Cuba to refrain from violence in their attempt to silence the voices of the people of Cuba.’
In a statement earlier Biden said, ‘We stand with the Cuban people and their clarion call for freedom and relief from the tragic grip of the pandemic and from the decades of repression and economic suffering to which they have been subjected by Cuba’s authoritarian regime.’
He said the protests represented the Cuban people ‘asserting fundamental and universal rights.’
‘Those rights, including the right of peaceful protest and the right to freely determine their own future, must be respected,’ the president continued.
‘The United States calls on the Cuban regime to hear their people and serve their needs at this vital moment rather than enriching themselves,’ Biden added.
Cuba is going through its worst economic crisis since the fall of the Soviet Union, along with a resurgence of coronavirus cases, as it suffers the consequences of US sanctions imposed by the Trump administration.
Thousands poured into the streets Sunday for the largest demonstrations seen in decades.
It comes months after six decades of the Castro family dominating Cuban politics ended with 89-year-old Raul Castro relinquishing the country’s most powerful position – that of party first secretary – to Miguel Diaz-Canel, Cuba’s president.
In an address to the country, President Diaz-Canel blamed the US for stoking anger, and said: ‘We are prepared to do anything. We will be battling in the streets.’
The Cuban government has blamed the island’s worsening economic crisis on U.S. sanctions, while Russia and Mexico have condemned ‘outside interference’ in an apparent swipe against Biden’s administration.
‘There’s every indication that yesterday’s protests were spontaneous expressions of people who are exhausted with the Cuban government’s economic mismanagement and repression,’ press secretary Jen Psaki said Monday. ‘And these are protests inspired by the harsh realities of everyday life in Cuba, not people in another country – I’m saying that because I think there have been a range of accusations out there.’
Police detain a person during protests Sunday in Havana, Cuba
Demonstrators in support of the Communist government in Havana, Cuba on Sunday