Washington warned Haitians and Cubans Tuesday against trying to flee to the United States as they endure domestic unrest, saying the trip is dangerous and they would be repatriated.
"The time is never right to attempt migration by sea," Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said. "This risk is not worth taking."
"Allow me to be clear. If you take the sea, you will not come to the United States."
Mayorkas made the remarks as political turmoil struck both Caribbean countries.
Haitian President Jovenel Moise was assassinated last week, leaving the country's leadership in disarray. And Cuba experienced broad and unprecedented protests over economic and social conditions over the weekend.
Mayorkas said there is not yet evidence of an increase in attempts to cross into the United States by boat from the two countries south of Florida.
But he said that the Coast Guard is patrolling the seas backed by aircraft of the southeast state and will interdict any migrant vessels.
"Any migrant intercepted at sea, regardless of their nationality, will not be permitted to enter the United States," Mayorkas said.
He said the trip across the straits of Florida was especially dangerous in the ongoing hurricane season, and that 20 people had died in recent weeks trying to reach the US.
The United States is continuing to help Haiti investigate the assassination and has Coast Guard ships just off its coast.
"We are committed to supporting the Haitian government, as it seeks justice in this case, and we affirm the United States support for the people of Haiti," he said.
"We also stand in solidarity with the Cuban people, and their call for freedom from the repression and economic suffering that Cuba's authoritarian regime is causing," he said.