(CNS): With just days to go before the end of Barack Obama’s historic term as president of the United States of America, his administration has announced an end to the policy which allows Cuban migrants who reach US soil to stay there legally while those intercepted at sea are sent back to Cuba. In exchange, Cuba has agreed to start accepting Cubans who have been issued a deportation order in the US after refusing to do so for decades. The decision could have a significant impact on the Cayman Islands, where thousands of migrants have landed over the years as they attempt to make the perilous journey to America.
The decision by the US government comes one week before President-elect Donald Trump takes office. Trump has said he would renegotiate the historic deal that Obama signed with Cuba that ended the five decades of cold war stand-off between the two countries. If this latest announcement sticks, Cubans will no longer receive preferential treatment over migrants from other countries.
Trump has said he would renegotiate the deal with Cuba, and ending the ‘wet foot, dry foot’ policy could affect his plans. But rumors of the end of the policy have been rampant in Cuba over the last two years because of the rapprochement between Havana and Washington, causing a surge of Cuban migration.
An end to the ‘wet foot, dry foot’ policy could see an end to the stream of migrants arriving here on their way to Central America, from where they can cross into the US overland. Cayman is spending millions of dollars every year housing, processing and repatriating Cubans who end their journeys here because of vessel failures and other problems.
The US Department of Homeland Security cited “significant increase” in migrant crossing as one of the reasons to end the policy, arguing that more Cubans are taking those dangerous routes out of fear that their window of opportunity is closing.