US visa-free residency for Cubans ends

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In the final days of the Obama Presidency, the outgoing Barack Obama ended the 20-year-old ‘wet feet, dry foot’ policy that allowed Cuban migrants who reach US soil to become legal permanent residents after a year. In exchange, Havana has agreed to start accepting Cubans who are turned away or deported from the US.

In exchange, Havana has agreed to start accepting Cubans who are turned away or deported from the US. Many Cubans in the US argued against the change, by saying Washington is rewarding a regime which has failed to address human rights concerns. Thousands of other Cubans are intercepted at sea every year by the US coast guard before they can get a dry foot on land. Obama defended the change in policy by claiming that “With this change we will continue to welcome Cubans as we welcome immigrants from other nations, consistent with our laws.” In a statement on state television, the Cuban government praised the move as “an important step in advancing relations” between the US and Cuba.

However it remains unclear where the relations between the two countries will go now, considering that President Donald Trump has taken a far harder stance on immigration and shown a willingness to tear up previous policy agreements that he fail to meet his protectionist ideals. Until now, the so-called “wet foot, dry foot” policy applied solely to Cubans, tens of thousands of whom reached US soil last year, including by land. Thousands of other Cubans are intercepted at sea every year by the US coast guard before they can get a dry foot on land.

Immigrants from other countries who come to the US without a visa could be arrested and deported.

 

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