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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?”

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.”

Read more about Katharina Obser’s comments in The Washington Post in our WRC in the News section.