Back to the Island: Obama ends "wet foot, dry foot” policy
President Obama said Thursday that he was ending the 22-year-old policy that has allowed Cubans who arrived on United States soil without visas to remain in the country and gain legal residency, an unexpected move long sought by the Cuban government.
The repeal of the “wet foot, dry foot” policy is effective immediately, according the official announcement. The decision follows months of negotiations focused in part on getting Cuba to agree to take back people who had arrived in the US.
The so-called “wet foot, dry foot” policy, which dates to 1995, allows those Cubans who make it onto American soil to stay and eventually apply for legal, permanent residency. In recent years, it has become a magnet for economic refugees, enticing many Cubans to make a perilous journey to the United States, reports The New York Times.
Benjamin J. Rhodes, the deputy national security adviser, who led clandestine negotiations that produced the 2014 opening, said most Cubans who came to the United States in the past “absolutely had to leave” Cuba “for political purposes.” Now, he said, the flow is largely of people seeking greater economic opportunity.
As reported in The New York Times.