The Obama administration has ended a policy known as “wet foot, dry foot,” which allowed illegal Cuban immigrants to remain in the U.S. if they were not caught till they were already in the country.
The “wet foot, dry foot” policy meant that Cubans who were caught trying to enter the U.S. were returned to their country (they were likely found on the water–wet foot), while those caught already in the U.S. were allowed to stay (dry foot).
According to Fox News, President Obama said this policy was “designed for a different era” of U.S. relations with Cuba.
The old policy will be obsolete immediately and the new policy says that all Cubans immigrating to the U.S. will only be allowed in with legal documentation.
Previously, Cuba was the only country that had this exception.
“By taking this step,” Obama stated, “we are treating Cuban migrants the same way we treat migrants from other countries.”
Since Obama is using an administrative rule change to implement the new policy, President-elect Donald Trump could reverse this policy, although it seems to align with his stance on illegal immigration.
Obama has strived to leave a legacy of improved U.S.-Cuba relations, and believes this is part of that endeavor.