The Cuban government has praised President Barack Obama for invalidating the immigration policy known as “Wet Foot/Dry Foot,” which allowed Cuban refugees to stay legally in the U.S. upon arrival, but demanded he also work to repeal the Cuban Adjustment Act of 1966, which the communists refer to as the “Law of Murder.”
In an extensive statement on the Cuban Communist Party newspaper Granma‘s website, the government of Havana called the end of the policy “an important set in the advance of bilateral relations” which would “guarantee regular, safe, and orderly migration.”
The piece recalled dictator Raúl Castro’s 2014 speech announcing an acceptance of President Obama’s concessions to the regime, in which Raúl noted that Fidel Castro had “at various points in our enduring struggle, promoted the discussion and resolution of differences through negotiations, without renouncing a single one of our principles.”
Cuba remains one of the world’s foremost human rights abusers and has ties to terrorist groups like the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and Hezbollah. It remains a loyal ally in the international sphere of such rogue regimes as those of Iran, North Korea, and Sudan.
President Obama’s repeal of “Wet Foot/Dry Foot,” which will now allow for the deportation of Cuban refugees, “is coherent with the will expressed by the Cuban government,” according to Granma. While noting this “advance,” the Granma statement adds, “in order to be consistent with the letter and spirit of the declaration [today]… it is necessary for Congress also to repeal the 1966 Cuban Adjustment Act, unique the world over and not consistent with the current bilateral context.”
The Cuban Adjustment Act facilitates the acquiring of a green card for refugees. According to a U.S. government summary, the act allows the U.S. Attorney General to grant refugees from Cuba legal status in the United States if:
•They have been present in the United States for at least 1 year
•They have been admitted or paroled
•They are admissible as immigrants
Cuba’s government calls the law the “Law of Murder” because it alleges that it promotes unsafe and illegal escape from Cuban tyranny. In doing so, Havana fails to mention that many of these “murders” have occurred at the hands of Cuban authorities, most egregiously the sinking of the March 13 tugboat in 1994, which killed 37 people, eleven of them children.
The dangers Havana has warned about regarding refugee flight towards the United States have grown significantly since 2014 when President Obama announced he would make multiple concessions to the Castro regime in exchange for pleasantries from the communist government.
While escapes from Cuba increased 500 percent between 2011 and 2016, much of this increase occurred in the first few months of 2015. The U.S. Coast Guard explicitly cited the fear of an end to Wet Foot/Dry Foot as the cause of this increase and noted that the desperation was making Cuban refugees behave more unpredictably when caught in the high seas, carrying bleach with them to drink should they be caught or risking drowning by jumping overboard.
The Cuban propaganda outlet Rebel Youth adds that the revocation of the “Wet Foot/Dry Foot” policy will not mean that the Cuban government will accept the nearly 3,000 Cuban citizens Fidel Castro forced out of the country during the 1980 Mariel Boatlift whom Washington considered ineligible to remain in the country.
The Mariel was a forced relocation to the United States, imposed by Fidel Castro, of over one hundred thousand prisoners who were serving sentences in Cuban jails. Castro called the move “flushing the toilets of Cuba” on the United States.
While protesting the continued viability of the Cuban Adjustment Act and refusing to take in the few Mariel boatlift victims the United States has refused to allow to stay, Havana heralded the revocation of a policy allowing Cuban professionals, doctors in particular, to say in the United States.
Cuba makes an estimated $8 million annually forcing its doctors to work abroad for little to no pay, pocketing the payments by foreign governments receiving the services. Doctors fleeing Cuba to start a new life in the United States posed a significant threat to one of the communist government’s biggest cash cows, that lifeline now newly invigorated by President Obama.