President Barack Obama’s decision to terminate the Cuban refugee policy is motivated by revenge for Cuban-Americans’ support of Donald Trump, say some Cubans.
The immigration policy, dating from 1966 and dubbed “Wet Foot, Dry Foot,” allowed Cubans who reach U.S. soil to stay and become voting citizens.
Jose Enrique Manresa, a 47-year-old Cuban now stranded in Mexico as a result of the change in immigration policy on Thursday, suggested that the outgoing president’s decision is aimed at punishing Cuban-Americans for supporting Trump.
“Obama, because he is leaving, suddenly takes up the idea of repealing a law that has been enforced for many years and has favored many Cubans. I think he got angry with the Cubans — it is a reprisal,” he told BBC, referring to the Cuban-American vote for Trump.
Manresa, who paid $10,000 to leave Cuba for the United States along with his daughter, learned of Obama’s decision eight days before he expected to end his 48-day journey through Guyana, Brazil, Venezuela, Colombia, Panama, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Guatemala, and Mexico.
Ramón Saúl Sanchez, president of the Democracy Movement in Miami, also suggested that Obama changed the 22-year-old policy to spite the pro-Trump Cuban-American community in the United States. He told a Spanish-language newspaper, Diario Las Americas, that the outgoing president may be resentful because a large number of Cubans voted for Trump.
Also, said the prominent Cuban activist-in-exile, Obama wanted to leave a “hot potato in the hands of President-elect Donald Trump,” he told Diario Las Americas.
Although Obama intended his decision to be “a historical step, something that people cannot forget,” what he ultimately did “was to please the Cuban regime,” emphasized Sánchez.
Like many other illegal immigrants from Latin America, Cubans will now have to apply for political asylum and submit to a series of requirements that must be corroborated or else they could be deported back to Cuba.
A poll of the 2016 U.S. presidential election sponsored by the Inspire America Foundation and America Teve revealed that Cuban-Americans backed Trump by a 2-to-1 margin over Democratic Candidate Hillary Clinton.
According to SurveyUSA, which conducted the poll of 600 Cuban-Americans residing in Florida’s Miami Dade County, 60 percent of Cuban-Americans surveyed said they voted for Trump, while 31 percent revealed that they supported Clinton.
Although a large number of Cubans in the United States have strongly identified with or leaned toward the Republican Party for decades, President Obama’s fairly new friendship with Cuba prompted many of them to support Trump.
Two of the top 2016 Republican presidential candidates — Sens. Marco Rubio of Florida and Ted Cruz of Texas — are Cuban-Americans.