The AP is reporting that President Barack Obama announced Thursday he is ending a longstanding immigration policy that allows any Cuban who makes it to U.S. soil to stay and become a legal resident.
“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,” Obama said in a statement.
The Cuban government praised the move. In a statement read on state television, it called the signing of the agreement “an important step in advancing relations” between the U.S. and Cuba that “aims to guarantee normal, safe and ordered migration.”
President Bill Clinton created “wet foot, dry foot” policy in 1995. Under the terms of the agreement, Cuba has agreed to take back those turned away from the U.S.
Since October 2012, more than 118,000 Cubans have presented themselves at ports of entry along the border, according to statistics published by the Homeland Security Department, including more than 48,000 people who arrived between October 2015 and November 2016.
Rep. Illeana Ros-Lehtinen, a Florida Republican who emigrated from Cuba as a child, decried the elimination of the medical parole programs, calling it a “foolhardy concession to a regime that sends its doctors to foreign nations in a modern-day indentured servitude.”