President Obama Ending "Wet Foot Dry Foot" Policy for Cuban Immigrants (Reuters)
"The Obama administration is ending a policy that granted residency to Cubans who arrived in the United States without visas, several congressional sources said on Thursday.
"The change in the policy, known as 'wet foot, dry foot,' is effective immediately. The Department of Homeland Security is also ending a policy for Cuban medical professionals, known as the parole program."
"The United States and Cuba have spent several months negotiating the change, including an agreement from Cuba to allow those turned away from the United States to return, the official said, according to AP.
"The U.S. State Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Reuters.
"President Barack Obama has been working to normalize relations with Cuba since he and President Raul Castro announced a breakthrough in diplomatic relations in December 2014."
I have to wonder how Cuban-Americans, particularly in my hometown of Miami, are going to react to this. I feel like despite the fact that many of them are in this country as a direct result of this policy, many of them seem to have fairly conservative views about immigration. Granted, I don't know how much or how little overlap there is there.
Personally, I'm not generally a fan of any action taken by our government to turn our back on refugees from any part of the world for any reason. "Wet Foot Dry Foot" was discriminatory, to be sure, but it also served an immediate need for people who needed to escape an oppressive regime. Of course, such a need exists in many places and I feel all of those needs should be addressed. Accepting refugees is an important part of that but helping these countries improve economies that we have, more often than not, had a hand in damaging is perhaps even more important--which is, in large part, what this move is about.
Undoubtedly, this is another step in a thaw of U.S.-Cuba relations that hopes to bring some economic improvement to the people of Cuba. I know many criticize this as merely lining the pockets of the corrupt Castro regime but the sad truth is that the only way for foreign governments to try to help people in need in countries like Cuba is go through the middle-man of the governments of those countries. It's certainly far from perfect but it's the only way available to governmental organizations and it's the only way to exert influence on such oppressive governments.