HAVANA TIMES — The New York Times ran an editorial today asking the United States Congress to repeal the Cuban Adjustment Act and the “wet feet – dry feet” policy, arguing that it is the cause of the Cuban migration crisis in Central America, reported dpa news.
The NYT called the Cuban Adjustment Act of 1966″ and subsequent “dry feet – wet feet,” policy “a relic of the Cold War that is preventing the normalization of relations between Washington and Havana.”
The influential daily maintains that if Congress does not repeal, the Obama administration should negotiate “a new agreement with the Cuban government to make orderly immigration the norm.” It proposes that “Cubans who reach the United States without authorization should be returned to the island unless they can demonstrate a credible fear of persecution.”
The NYT also called for the repeal of the “Parole Program for Cuban medical professionals”, established by the government of George W. Bush in 2006. The program allows for Cuban health professionals working on international Cuban government missions abroad to abandon their assignments and travel to the United States.
The government of Raul Castro, its Nicaraguan ally, Daniel Ortega, and the most hardline Cuban exiles in Miami, including presidential candidate Marco Rubio, are also consistent with the NYT on the need to repeal the Cuban Adjustment Act and the policy of “wet feet, dry feet”, saying they fuel dangerous illegal immigration.
But the Obama administration is reluctant, fearing that the announcement of this measure would cause an avalanche of Cuban immigrants before they change the law.
The Cuban Adjustment Act of 1966 offers Cubans who reach the United States, regardless of whether they have done so legally or illegally, a fast track to legal permanent residency -a year and one day after reaching the country, and later US citizenship.
According to the “wet feet-dry feet” policy, the US Coast Guard repatriates all Cubans intercepted at sea in route to the US (“wet feet”). Those who step on American soil (“dry feet”) are welcome to obtain government assistance and permanent residence.
In addition, like other refugees, Cubans can receive food stamps and Medicaid benefits, public health for the poor, and Medicare for those over 65 years.
The thaw between Washington and Havana has called into question the privileges enjoyed by Cuban immigrants in the United States.
Immigrants from other countries can take decades to get legal residency and, if they have entered the country illegally, they risk deportation.
The US and Cuba formally reestablished bilateral relations last July, after more than half a century of disruption and ideological confrontation.