WOLA: Advocacy for Human Rights in the Americas
12 Jan 2017 | WOLA Statement

President Obama to End ‘Wet Foot, Dry Foot’ Policy for Cuban Migrants

President Obama will end a policy that grants residency to Cubans who arrive to the United States without a visa. According to reports, the measure is effective immediately.

The Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA), a leading research and advocacy organization advancing human rights and social justice in the Americas, supports the change in policy. WOLA Program Director Geoff Thale, who has worked on U.S.-Cuba policy for over twenty years, issued the following statement:

“The Obama Administration has taken a positive step toward a more sensible Cuban immigration policy, one that ends preferential treatment for Cubans compared with others who arrive without visas.

Up until now, U.S. policy has permitted Cubans who arrive at a U.S. border without a visa to be paroled into the country, and put on a path toward citizenship, an advantage that no other Latin Americans enjoy, and one that has seemed particularly unfair when children and families fleeing violence in Central America are subject to deportation. This change ‘normalizes’ our treatment of Cuban immigrants.

Cubans have been seeking entry into the United States primarily because of economic stagnation at home. The U.S. embargo is one of many factors that has contributed to that stagnation, and so WOLA and many colleagues have recommended to the Administration that it should both end preferential treatment for Cubans and increase the number of visas available to Cubans who pursue regular immigration routes.”