In less than 24 hours, President Obama has overturned decades of US Cuba policy. With roughly one week left in the Oval Office, Obama chose to end the “wet-foot, dry-foot” policy that has granted Cuban refugees and dissidents landing on U.S. soil the privilege of legal residency. Obama stated, "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. By taking this step, we are treating Cuban migrants the same way we treat migrants from other countries."
While less generous than Cold War era policies toward Cuban migrants, the “wet-foot-dry-foot” policy was implemented by the Clinton administration in 1996 as a way to curb to strike a balance between a markedly lax Cuban immigration and one that still leaves open the door to the Castro regime's most helpless victims.
To make the journey across the Florida Straits, Cuban migrants would often build cheap rafts or pay unscrupulous human smugglers just so their children could have a future in the United States.
But even that small glimmer of hope has been turned to darkness, thanks to the Obama administration. Cuban migrants without visas will now be subject to the same laws as every other immigrants crossing into the country illegal. That means that deportation laws now apply.
The Castro regime has long demanded the U.S. abandon its special treatment of Cuban migrants. Havana argued that such a policy cast unfairly demonized its communist island and gratuitously encouraged its people to make a treacherous and often deadly odyssey north. Never mind the fact that Castro’s thugs were jailing and executing journalists, freethinkers, democracy activists, homosexuals, religious clerics, and dissidents.
In a cynical play at diplomatic appeasement, Obama has seemingly submitted to the Castro regime’s demands as part of his push to thaw relations with Cuba.
He reopened diplomatic ties with the island nation in 2014 and has been working to lift the economic embargo and soften relations in any possible ever since.
Claiming that status quo with Cuba hasn’t been working, the legacy-obsessed president angered many Cuban exiles who asserted that Obama was normalizing a dictatorial government.
But these grievances have fallen on deaf ears.
In a long-winded, self-conscious statement issued by the White House on Thursday, President Obama protested that he had only the best interests of the Cuban people at heart.