The end of “wet foot, dry foot”

On Behalf of | Jan 17, 2017 | US Immigration Law

The end of any U.S. presidential term involves a flurry of eleventh-hour executive orders, pardons and repeals. The waning days of the Obama administration saw a measure repealed that granted automatic residency to almost every Cuban arriving in the United States.

After months of planning and negotiating with the Castro regime, the shift was abruptly announced by the Department of Homeland Security to prevent thousands of Cubans from venturing into the United States.

A Step Forward Or Backward?

“Wet foot, dry foot” has been in place for decades. The exception to U.S. immigration policy was implemented following a 1995 exodus where the Coast Guard picked up tens of thousands of Cubans traveling to Florida by sea.

A Cuban immigrant who reached the Texas border or any other U.S. land port could stay in the country. The provision would allow application for a designation that would provide them a green card after living in the country for one year.

The End Of Exoduses

Since discussions to end the measure began in 2014, tens of thousands of Cubans have flooded the Texas border, seeking refuge after traveling through Mexico. In 2015 alone, 28,400 Cubans entered Texas, an 82 percent jump from 2014. Thousands more entered the United States during the past year.

In addition to the demise “wet foot, dry foot,” the Department of Homeland Security also announced the end of Cuban medical professionals coming to the U.S. for work. The program was unpopular in Havana as it limited the country’s pool of trained health workers.