Biden administration won't allow Cuban, Haitian refugees to enter U.S. by boat
The U.S. has for decades turned its back the vast majority of migrants encountered at sea.
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Cuban and Haitian residents fleeing their country by boat will not be allowed to enter the U.S., even if they have legitimate fears of being persecuted or tortured in their home countries, the Biden administration says.
The warning was made Tuesday by Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, according to CBS News.
"Allow me to be clear: If you take to the sea, you will not come to the United States," said Mayorkas, in an apparent attempt to dissuade those considering a perilous voyage on the Caribbean Sea and in the Florida Straits.
Mayorkas, a Cuban immigrant who fled the island with his family in 1960, made the warning days after Haiti President Jovenel Moise was assassinated and Cubans staged street protests against their communist-socialist government over dire economic conditions, worsened by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Mayorkas said the Coast Guard will intercept those trying to reach the U.S. by sea and immediately returned them to their home countries.
Even if asylum-seekers manage to get interviews with U.S. officials, he also said, they will not be permitted to set foot on U.S. soil, regardless of the outcome of their screenings.
"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 did not mark a shift in U.S. policy. For decades, the U.S. government has been turning back the vast majority of migrants encountered at sea, CBS also reports.