Opening remarks at a White House press conference, Washington, DC, August 19, 1994.
Good afternoon. In recent weeks the Castro regime has encouraged Cubans to take to the sea in unsafe vessels to escape their nation's internal problems. In so doing, it has risked the lives of thousands of Cubans, and several have already died in their efforts to leave.
This action is a cold-blooded attempt to maintain the Castro grip on Cuba and to divert attention from his failed communist policies. He has tried to export to the United States the political and economic crises he has created in Cuba in defiance of the democratic tide flowing throughout this region. Let me be clear: The Cuban Government will not succeed in any attempt to dictate American immigration policy.
The United States will do everything within its power to ensure that Cuban lives are saved and that the current outflow of refugees is stopped. Today, I have ordered that illegal refugees from Cuba will not be allowed to enter the United States. Refugees rescued at sea will be taken to our naval base at Guantanamo, while we explore the possibility of other safe havens within the region.
To enforce this policy, I have directed the Coast Guard to continue its expanded effort to stop any boat illegally attempting to bring Cubans to the United States. The United States will detain, investigate, and, if necessary, prosecute Americans who take to the sea to pick up Cubans. Vessels used in such activities will be seized.
I want to compliment the Coast Guard and the Immigration and Naturalization Service for their efforts. And I want to thank …