Obama Ends Wet Foot, Dry Foot Policy
Morning Star | Saturday, 14 January 2017 | Click here for original article
SOLIDARITY campaigners welcomed US President Barack Obama’s ending of the “wet-foot/dry foot” policy which saw Cuban immigrants risk their lives at sea.
The contentious policy, introduced under former president Bill Clinton, stipulated that any migrants intercepted at sea would be sent home, but those who set foot on US soil could remain.
Cuba has long protested that the policy encourages its citizens to risk their lives on the 90-mile sea journey to Florida.
However, the Cuban Adjustment Act (which favours Cubans over all other immigrants by offering them the right to apply for US citizenship after they have been in the US for one year) remains on the statute books.
The Cuban and US governments issued a joint statement on Thursday announcing halting it, calling the decision a “a major step toward the normalisation of their migration relations, in order to ensure a regular, safe and orderly migration.”
Cuba Solidarity Campaign (CSC) national secretary Bernard Regan welcomed the move yesterday, but cautioned: “Much more needs to be done in the US if the administration is to show real respect for Cuban sovereignty.
“President Obama could take many more steps to dismantle the illegal blockade even in his last few days in office,” he told the Morning Star.
However, uncertainty remained over the state of Cuban-US relations after US president-elect
Donald Trump is sworn in next Friday.
Mr Trump has criticised Mr Obama’s policy of detente and has vowed to keep the Guantanamo Bay extra-legal prison camp open — on Cuban occupied land, against Havana’s wishes.
“It remains to be seen whether President Trump will continue to advance towards full recognition of Cuba’s right to determine its own political, economic and social path and the closing of Guantanamo will be the acid test,” Mr Regan said.
“When the US ends its illegal occupation of Guantanamo and returns the land to the Cuban people then we will know that relationships have been normalised.”
CSC director Rob Miller also hailed the end of the so-called Cuban Medical Professional Parole Programme, which encouraged doctors, nurses and other health workers in Cuba’s many international humanitarian missions to defect to the US.
“This immoral policy led to both brain drain in Cuba and deprived the developing world of much-needed medical expertise in times following natural disasters,” he said.