President Barack Obama is ending the ‘wet foot, dry foot’ Cuban immigration policy that has allowed Cubans who set foot on U.S. soil without visas to stay in the United States legally, according to an Associated Press report Thursday.
The policy repeal, an anonymous senior administration official said to the Associated Press, is effective immediately and is a decision that has been made after “months of negotiations focused in part on getting Cuba to agree to take back people who had arrived in the U.S.”
The policy was put in place by President Bill Clinton in 1995 and the Miami Herald reports that the repeal was immediate to avoid a wave of Cubans trying to reach U.S. soil after the announcement.
The official gave the Associated Press several reasons for the policy change, such as the influx of Cuban immigration through the U.S.-Mexico border which the official said has become a burden on other countries in the region who must struggle with the Cuban immigrants who have yet to reach the U.S. border.
Another reason for the policy repeal, the official said, is because in recent years, Cuban immigrants are no longer leaving the island to escape the Castro regime but for economic reasons and to take advantage of the benefits they are eligible to receive in the U.S.
The Cuban government, however, the official said, has given no assurance on how the Cubans that will be sent back to the island will be treated but that political asylum will continue to be an option for those that have fears of being persecuted if they return to the island.
According to the report, the U.S. and Cuban government are scheduled to make an official announcement later Thursday night on the new policy change.
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