In a new video, U.S. Rep. Ted Yoho says he personally stopped a boat of about 20 Cuban refugees from entering the U.S. and reaching "freedom and liberty," according to the Tampa Bay Times.
The video of the Gainesville Republican's statements was uploaded to YouTube by Right Wing Watch, who reports Yoho made the comments during a town hall meeting on Aug. 25 in Melrose. Pictures from the representative's Facebook page show he was wearing similar clothes to the ones in the video on Aug. 25, and a spokesperson from his office confirmed to Orlando Weekly that it is Yoho.
Yoho tells the crowd he was down in the Florida Keys fishing with his son when they saw a boat of Cuban refugees.
"Twenty migrants on this boat," he says. "Wanting freedom. Wanting liberty and freedom. What am I supposed to do? [Say] come on in, the water's great?"
Yoho tells the crowd he called the Coast Guard and told the refugees he was doing so.
"They weren't happy," he says as the audience laughs.
Yoho says he and his son were "veering in front of the boat trying to slow them down" because the Coast Guard was 20 minutes away.
Yoho describes a "spotter boat" who was trying to lead the Cuban refugees to shore. The Cuban Adjustment Act, also known as the "wet foot, dry foot" policy allows Cubans who reach U.S. soil to stay and become permanent residents after a year. Yoho says he told the driver of the spotter boat, "No, they're not coming to shore," and started recording him.
The refugees kept trying to get to shore, so Yoho told his son to follow them.
"The Coast Guard showed up, and they deported those people back to Cuba," Yoho tells the audience, which breaks into applause. "They were not happy. They were throwing stuff. I have a friend I know that's in the Coast Guard that picked them up and said that was the maddest group of immigrants they ever picked up."
Yoho then says one of the Coast Guard members tell him he saved the American people taxpayer money that would have been spent on the Cuban refugees.
"I'm protecting the sovereignty of the United States of America," Yoho says.