HAVANA TIMES – The US government reiterated on Tuesday that it has no plans to change the Cuban Adjustment Act and “wet-foot feet dry” policy, despite nine Latin American foreign ministers asking Washington to review the law they attribute to the current Cuban migration crisis affecting the region.
“The United States is committed to supporting a safe, orderly and legal migration. The Cuban Adjustment Act is still in force and the ‘wet feet-feet dry’ (policy) remains the policy of the United States on Cuban migration,” a State Department spokesman told dpa news.
The foreign ministers of Colombia, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Mexico, Panama, Peru, Nicaragua and Ecuador sent a letter to US Secretary of State John Kerry on Monday in which they expressed their concern about the negative effects of US immigration policy with respect to Cuba and its impact on the region.
The Latin American countries urged Kerry to revise the US immigration policy that encourages Cubans to migrate illegally, putting them in dangerous situations.
The Cuban Adjustment Act of 1966 gives Cubans who reach the United States, regardless of whether they have done so legally or illegally, the right to work and a fast track to legal residency -a year and one day after arriving in the country, and later US citizenship.
According to the policy of “wet feet, dry feet”, United States repatriates all Cubans intercepted at sea ( “wet feet”). Those who land on US soil ( “dry feet”) can process a permanent residency permit.
The State Department confirmed Monday that it had received the letter from the Latin American foreign ministers on the Cuban Adjustment Act, which dates from the ’60s.
“We are concerned about the safety of all migrants throughout the region, including migrants seeking to travel north through South America, Central America and Mexico,” said John Kirby, spokesman for the State Department, who warned of the dangers of illegal travel to the United States.
Kirby said the United States “continues to encourage all countries to respect the human rights of migrants and asylum seekers and ensure they are treated humanely”.
Tens of thousands of Cubans have left their country in recent years, hoping to reach the United States in order to benefit from the advantages of the Cuban Adjustment Act, but many have been detained by the immigration policies of the countries on their way north.
The thaw between Washington and Havana has led some politicians to question the privileges enjoyed by Cuban immigrants in the United States.
Many immigrants consider unfair the favorable treatment of Cubans. The remaining immigrants can take decades to get permanent legal residence and, if they have entered the country illegally, they risk being deported.
In the United States no Cubans are considered “undocumented”, because those who reach the country invoke the Cuban Adjustment Act.