President Obama, as one of his last acts in the White House, has put an end to the “Wet Foot, Dry Land” policy that has been in effect for twenty years.
The policy originally made it a legalized act that if a Cuban immigrant were to set one foot on American soil, they would be allowed to enter the United States without a visa. This is no longer the case, and if a Cuban immigrant is found entering the U.S. in any fashion, they are to be detained and deported.
It is still the law that if any Cuban is found at sea, they are swiftly returned to Cuba. President Obama considered the policy that of a “different era,” and stated during a press conference:
“Effective immediately, Cuban nationals who attempt to enter the United States illegally and do not qualify for humanitarian relief will be subject to removal, consistent with U.S. law and enforcement priorities.”
This move is in an effort to show consistency across the immigration board and show that the U.S. is not giving Cuban refugees any special treatment when it comes to entering and exiting the United States. The Cuban government has agreed to take back any refugees caught illegally attempting to enter the United States.
U. S. Coast Guard Vice Admiral Karl L. Schultz talked about what this removal of policy will do to strategy and daily activities for the Coast Guard and border patrols. Vice Admiral Schultz stated on Friday that:
“Our role in the enforcement of U.S. immigration laws remains unchanged in light of Thursday’s announcement,” Schultz said. “The Coast Guard’s highly trained crews aboard cutters, aircraft and small boats remains ready (to) continue to work with our DHS (Department of Homeland Security) partners to stop any attempts at illegal immigration to the United States.”
Schultz also sent a message to Cuban families urging them to make plans to enter the United States legally in order to both save lives and remove themselves from possible legal issues. Schultz stated:
“Every effort will be made by the Coast Guard to stop illegal voyages before they potentially end in tragedy. I urge Cuban-American communities to discourage the people of Cuba from putting their lives at risk in dangerous and illegal at-sea crossings.”
Our relationship with Cuba has begun to increase towards the positive over the last few months as President Obama has been preparing to leave the White House. With the incoming administration showing their contempt for immigration and demanding immigration reform, this squash of policy will help even the playing ground before the new regime takes hand.
Featured image via Miami Herald.