Ever since the Cold War, immigrants from Cuba have only had to step on US soil to begin the journey to legal residency here, due to an agreement between the two countries that used to protect refugees fleeing the communist regime.
However, now that Cuba and the United States have started repairing ties, potential Cuban immigrants are worried that they will be treated like every other undocumented person who tries to cross the border, so they’re starting to come in droves in order to avoid the risk of being turned away.
The Cuban Adjustment Act, as the agreement is called, has started to face mounting pressure from Congress, with members like Arizona representative Paul Gosar attempting to introduce bills to repeal it. Said Gosar, “If President Obama has normalized relations with Cuba, why would we treat illegal immigrants from that nation any different than those from other countries?”
The agreement was established in 1966, and has been called the “wet foot, dry foot” policy after Bill Clinton amended it during his term as President to only include those Cuban migrants who set foot on dry land, not just anyone who reached US waters.
Cuban immigrant numbers have almost doubled since 2014, with many choosing to forgo entering the country by boat (usually through the Straits of Florida) and instead making their way into the US through Central America. This has caused upsets in the countries of that region, notably in Costa Rica, where immigrants had started to be detained after an incident earlier this month in which a human trafficking ring smuggling Cubans through the country was broken up. The detainments didn’t last long, however, as a mass protest on a highway caused officials to issue over 1000 humanitarian visas and let Cuban migrants continue their journey north – much to the jubilation of those who had been stranded there.
An estimated 0.5 million Cuban people have become legal US residents through the Cuban Adjustment Act, including the father of presidential candidate Ted Cruz. The decision to repair diplomatic relations between the two countries came in July and was announced by President Obama, who also mentioned there were no plans to alter the “wet foot, dry foot” policy.
If you or someone you know would like legal consultation regarding the Cuban-American agreement, or you would like consultation regarding your rights after crossing the US border, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with Lyttle Law Firm. You can send an enquiry through the website or by calling 512-215-5225.