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Ordinary Cubans fret about end to USA immigration policy

16 January 2017

Repeal of the "wet foot, dry foot" policy - which allowed any Cuban who reached U.S. soil to stay but returned any picked up at sea - was effective immediately after Thursday afternoon's announcement.

Obama said in a statement that "by taking this step, we are treating Cuban migrants the same way we treat migrants from other countries".

The Obama Administration announced late Thursday that it plans to stop granting residency protection to Cubans who enter the United States without a visa.

The move was part of a new Department of Homeland Security regulation and an agreement that President Obama reached with the Cuban government. About 100,000 left for the United States after the declaration of detente, many flooding overland through South and Central America and Mexico in an exodus that irritated USA allies and other immigrant groups and spawned bitter complaints from the Cuban government.

This move had served a way to battle former Cuban leader Fidel Castro's government, by permitting thousands of Cuban nationals who had been attempting to flee the tyranny in Cuba to enter the United States.

The move comes about a week before President Barack Obama leaves office and is likely the last major change he will make to his overhaul of the USA relationship with Cuba. "We should never deny a Cuban refugee fleeing a brutal regime entry into the United States", Menendez said.

The Cuban Adjustment Act of 1966 allows any Cuban who comes to the US and lives here for a year to apply for permanent residency.

"You have quite a large number of Cubans who were already in Mexico ready to cross over, and for one reason or another, now they're stranded in Mexico", he said.

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There is no last insult from President Obama.

Both representatives were ardent critics of the initial "wet foot, dry foot" policy, not because it was still too preferential to Cubans, as Republicans like Rubio now say, but instead because it was harmful to Cubans intercepted in the waters between Florida and the communist nation. "There are about two million people of Cuban origin living in the USA compared to 11 million back on the island".

But Cubans who had left their homeland and were trying to reach USA soil when the decision was announced lamented the policy change.

Obama has sought to expand the opening with Cuba as far as he can before he leaves office in hopes that the incoming Trump administration and its supporters in Congress won't be able to put relations back in a freeze. He did not discuss why, despite the fact that scores of other repressive regimes exist, Cuba is the only country for which the United States has maintained such a policy. "That is one of the things they wanted", Gimenez said of the medical-parole program's end.

Manreza, who ran a soda warehouse in Havana before he left in December with his daughter, said he was deciding whether to return to Cuba, broke, or seek asylum in Mexico.

"Maybe it's going to be harder for people to get a job or something". The president said those doctors can still apply for asylum at US embassies around the world. Others said they thought the measure would increase pressure for change in Cuba.

The migrant influx led President Bill Clinton to modify the Cuban Adjustment Act in 1995, establishing the "wet foot, dry foot" policy.

Ordinary Cubans fret about end to USA immigration policy