Obama Administration Ending 'Wet Foot, Dry Foot' Policy for Cubans
- Author: Megan Austin Jan 16, 2017,
Jan 16, 2017, 0:48
The latest, and perhaps final, act in Mr. Obama's "normalization" program toward Cuba came Thursday: an agreement with Havana under which Washington granted the former's long-standing demand to abandon a 20-year-old American policy that offered permanent residency to Cubans who manage to reach us territory, even via unauthorized means.
Many Cuban immigrants said they are already being denied entry to the USA after the "wet-foot, dry-foot" policy was terminated.
Customs and Corder Patrol told CBS4 once the policy has been changed officially, they will be treating Cuban migrants like any other migrant without legal standing in the United States.
President Obama issued a statement Thursday evening saying the U.S.is working to normalize relations with its one-time foe, and ending this policy was the next logical step. Such corruption had led even some Cuban American members of Congress to suggest the end of "wet foot, dry foot"; those lawmakers' reaction to Mr. Obama's new policy was notably muted.
The statement also says that "the Cuban government has agreed to accept the return of Cuban nationals who have been ordered removed, just as it has been accepting the return of migrants interdicted at sea".
While Cuban-Americans as a whole support the wet-foot, dry-foot policy as well as the Cuban Adjustment Act in polls, that support tends to follow generational lines with older Cuban-Americans - those that emigrated in the 1960s and 1970s immediately following Fidel Castro's revolution - the least likely to support them.
"People who can't leave, they could create internal problems for the regime", said Jorge Gutierrez, an 80-year-old veteran of the Bay of Pigs invasion. Obama visited Havana last March. Cubans who were apprehended in the waters between the two countries, however, were returned to Cuba.
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Duany said that the immediate effect of the policy shift has been to strand Cubans attempting to enter the U.S. The change took effect immediately after Thursday's announcement. As I said in Havana, the future of Cuba should be in the hands of the Cuban people. It was announced abruptly because advance warning might have inspired thousands more people to take to the seas between the Communist-ruled island and Florida in order to beat a deadline. His administration has eased restrictions on travel and trade, allowing more US business with Cuba and improved communications with the island.
The Cold War-era policy had a wide-ranging impact, transforming both Cuba and the United States. "It could impose a more normal dynamic on emigration, so that not so many people die at sea, but it could also take an escape valve away from the government, which was getting hard currency from the emigrants".
Ros-Lehtinen focused most of her criticism on Obama's decision to cut the Cuban Medical Professional Parolee Program, which she said "was done because that's what the Cuban dictatorship wanted and the White House caved to what Castro wants", among other complaints.
They have since re-opened embassies in their respective capitals and are slowly making it easier for US companies to do business in Cuba. "They are killing the people of the United States that return to Cuba".
Although politics are changing, Cubans are still coming to the U.S. In fact there has been a recent uptick in Cuban migration: more than 118,000 have arrived at U.S. ports of entry since 2012.
"It's been fifty years", he said.