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Policy Changes in U.S. and Cuba Alter Immigration and Repatriation Trends

LADB Article ID: 80259
Category/Department: Cuba
Date: 2017-04-06
By: Daniel Vázquez

The Cuban migratory scene changed abruptly after January’s termination of the “wet foot, dry foot” policy, which put an end to immigration privileges for Cubans arriving in the US and left many migrants stranded on their journey through Mexico and Central America. Meanwhile, thousands of Cubans who had been living abroad are choosing to return to the island, although without renouncing their residency rights and jobs in other countries. Barack Obama’s decision to terminate the “wet foot, dry foot” policy on Jan. 12, a week before he left the presidency, surprised Cubans who had already begun their journeys to the US across forests, seas, and national borders. The possible end of the policy had been looming since December 2014, when a radical change in US-Cuban bilateral relations was announced (NotiCen, Jan. 29, 2015). Because of that possibility, there was an immediate increase in the number of Cubans attempting to reach the US. The willingness to repeal the “wet foot, dry foot” policy, which had been in force since 1995, was Obama’s last gesture and was in sync with demands made by Raúl Castro, who for decades has claimed that the mass departures from Cuba to the US meant the loss of the country’s professionals and was a source of internal political destabilization.

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