DHS Secretary Mayorkas Urges Cubans to Stop ‘Taking to the Seas’ to With Hopes of Asylum in America


Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas on Monday urged that Cubans cease “taking to the seas” to escape the country’s regime.

“You came and fled from Cuba as a boy,” MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell noted in an afternoon interview with Mayorkas. “How do you feel about human rights groups, refugee groups, criticizing you — Cuban Americans criticizing you for your messaging to Cuba and Haiti, ‘Don’t come here, don’t try to get here illegally, don’t get on those boats,’ given your own family background?”

Mayorkas said his family “lost everything they had in Cuba” before his parents brought him to the United States in 1960, when he was one-year-old.

“The message that I communicated, the message that our administration is communicating is, one, we stand with the Cuban people. We deplore the repression that the authoritarian regime is exercising against the Cuban people. But we also deliver a message of humanity, which is do not take to the seas. In two weeks’ time we rescued many, many families that tried to do that, and we saw 20 deaths occur in just a couple weeks. It’s a perilous journey, it’s an unsafe journey, and there’s an orderly way to seek relief under United States law, and taking to the seas is not it.”

Mitchell followed up by asking whether there was a way to help more Cubans to flee the country. Despite his directive that Cubans should stop taking to the seas, Mayorkas said they would have to journey to a port of entry in order to make any claim for asylum.

“We accept claims for asylum through the ports of entry,” Mayorkas said. “That is the safe, orderly, and humane way to proceed.”

Cuba has been in a state of unrest since protests began last month over widespread shortages of basic goods. Mayorkas prompted blowback last month when he said, in remarks aimed at Cuban refugees, “Allow me to be clear: If you take to the sea, you will not come to the United States.”

Katharina Obser, an acting director of the Migrant Rights & Justice Program at the Women’s Refugee Commission, responded with a statement that said her group was “gravely disappointed” by the Mayorkas’ “repeated insistence on rejecting desperate families, children, and single adults from our borders, whether by foot or by sea.”

Watch above via MSNBC.

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