Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas is warning Cubans and Haitians against attempting illegal journeys to the U.S. by sea, even as the assassination of Haiti’s president and protests in Cuba inject political instability in the Caribbean nations.
“Any migrant intercepted at sea will not be permitted to enter the United States,” he said in a press briefing Tuesday. Most will be returned to their countries, he said. Those who fear persecution or torture at home will be referred to third countries for resettlement.
The Coast Guard has interdicted 470 Cubans and 313 Haitians at sea this fiscal year, compared with 49 Cubans and 430 Haitians in fiscal 2020, the secretary said. He added that the Coast Guard hasn’t observed a “surge” in efforts to enter the U.S. by sea but is “well-equipped” to handle one.
Mayorkas, himself a Cuban immigrant, said the Biden administration is committed to supporting the Haitian and Cuban people. The U.S. has extended temporary protected status to Haitians in the U.S., for example, but TPS “is not an immigration program” and isn’t available to people trying to enter the country, he said.
Three Department of Homeland Security officials traveled to Haiti this week with an interagency group to assess security concerns there.
To contact the reporter on this story: Ellen M. Gilmer in Washington at firstname.lastname@example.org