The Abolition of the Wet Foot-Dry Foot Immigration Policy Not A Bad Move

Following is my latest letter-to-the-editor that the Washington Times published on January 20, 2017.

Mr. Antonio Benedí bemoans the repeal of the “wet foot, dry foot” immigration policy by President Obama (“Obama’s betrayal of the Cuban people,” Web, Jan. 17). Said policy puts Cubans who reach U.S. soil on a fast track to permanent residency. He and I disagree on this issue.

First, let’s correct the record. Mr. Benedí indicates that this policy was put in place in response to former President Bill Clinton’s handling of the Elian Gonzalez incident. This is simply not factual. The policy was started in 1995 by President Clinton as a preventive measure against a mass exodus of Cuban refugees after Fidel Castro threatened another exodus of Cubans to protest the U.S. embargo. The Elian Gonzalez incident took place in 2000, long after the policy was firmly in place.

President Obama’s decision to abolish the “wet foot, dry foot” rule was the right one to take, and it’s been long overdue. When most Cubans who benefitted from this policy in the past returned to Communist Cuba repeatedly after obtaining their residency by living for one year and one day in the United States, it transformed them from political refugees to economic immigrants. They ceased to be “political refugees” — people afraid to return to their home countries for fear their lives would be endangered. To afford these Cubans special privileges that were denied immigrants of other nationalities was in itself discriminatory and challenging to our fair-play values. So kudos to President Obama for ending this “pachanga” once and for all.

To restore freedom and democracy to Communist Cuba, it is the Cubans who have to trigger a ‘Cuban Spring.’ The “wet foot, dry foot” policy provided an escape valve to shirk this responsibility. It provided the Cuban government with a lifeline into the future by getting rid of most of the regime’s dissenters. Those dissidents who remained in Cuba were then either locked up in Cuban gulags or killed by Communist thugs. With the repeal of the policy, there will be enough dissidents in Cuba to provide the spark for the liberation movement that will untie the chains that have oppressed Cuban citizens for over 57 years.

To view Mr. Benedí’s op-ed, click on http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2017/jan/17/obamas-betrayal-of-the-cuban-people/

7 thoughts on “The Abolition of the Wet Foot-Dry Foot Immigration Policy Not A Bad Move”

  1. Well…. Hard to believe that people who go in leaky boats to be food for sharks would be people who only came here so they could go back and forth to Cuba.
    And what would be so bad if those who took such risks were all allowed here? They would work hard and be good American citizens. They would probably be good conservative voters as well. We need more of them to counteract the prisoners set free and illegals invited in who vote left.

  2. If you are of Cuban descent outside of Florida, like me, you often will be called upon by immigrants legal and illegal, to justify the so-called “special treatment” fleeing Cubans receive and that, as Ponce rightly points out, is not afforded to other foreigners. It is really difficult and embarrassing to defend it, particularly in the face of the subsequent actions the Cuban arrivals take. You can argue about human rights violations and the hellhole that Cuba has become until you are blue in the face, but it gets you nowhere, because it never explains WHY people so desperate to risk their lives at sea, can’t wait to return to the island the first chance they get after moving here. Whether by raft or by plane, both inside and outside Florida, you can witness Cubans arriving from the island booking their flights to Cuba as soon as they are able to legally do so….. they are itchy, counting the days and the money before they can take off. All of which begs the question: If it was so bad, why do you return? And if you return because it’s not that bad, why did you leave? The excuse of a sick relative who needs you is a pathetic joke that doesn’t quite wash anymore; take a look at them at the airport, hauling stuff back to the island, and it’s not medicine. I’ve always thought that Cuba and FL have a symbiotic relationship, feeding off each other; and that travel to Cuba is nothing but a cottage industry that never dies, because so many locals make their living through it. Much like the welfare state, what started as a genuine attempt to help people eventually degenerates into abuse, corruption, and waste. The Clintonian policy, whatever the motive, has turned a lot of onlookers into cynics; they are not stupid, they see right through the scam when the claim is made that these arrivals are political “refugees” ……. Please save that for someone else who is genuinely persecuted and can’t return to their home country. Let’s not pretend that our status deserves such special consideration after we watch the abuse of the assistance and the perks that have come with it, at taxpayer expense. It’s sad that now everyone pays the price, but let’s man up and admit that what has been going on is wrong — very wrong. Like it or not, that special status has become hard, if not impossible, to defend anymore.

  3. No doubt there has been way too much relajo, which is deeply disgraceful, but the matter is still complicated. Anything that can be abused will be abused, just like welfare and food stamps, which cost taxpayers far more money than yo-yo “exiles” but remain largely untouchable for PC reasons. The protestations of “Latinos” are obviously hypocritical and don’t concern me, since they have zero credibility on anything Cuba-related anyway. As for why Cubans go back, it’s because they go back as desirable tourists and are treated like VIPs by family and friends, which gives them a “lift” they cannot get here. There is also, lest we forget, emotional blackmail going on, deliberate or not, and it does work. In addition, people born into, raised in and (de)formed by a system like Castro, Inc. are not going to see things as if they knew better because, by and large, they never did. Remember, the plague has lasted over half a century, and it has corrupted and twisted everything on that miserable island–everything. Anyone who doesn’t think that’s going to adversely affect the human element is dreaming.

  4. The logic of those excuses is quite twisted: giving a pass to long term bad behavior because the perpetrators come from an immoral society and — allegedly — don’t know any better is bogus. We don’t operate that way in our justice system with people from “dysfunctional” homes who commit crime. There comes a point at which people must accept responsibility for what they do. And the abuses of the Clintonian policy, and the pre-Clinton policies as well, cannot be ignored. This is not about what other “latinos” think of Cubans, this about what Cuban immigrants in massive numbers have done with the privileges afforded to them: they have squandered them. And in the process, they’ve screwed everyone along the way. The fact that people are raised in a “deformed” system doesn’t prevent them from seeing the difference when they com here. Isn’t that the reason they come in the first place? Maybe not, huh? The US is filled with legal immigrants from very harsh dictatorships, particularly in Africa, who come for freedom and a fresh start; lots of them reside not far from my place. This country has a very long-standing immigration policy of accepting folks from such “deformed” systems, and worse; they don’t go back to their original hellholes as soon as they can. Let’s stop kidding ourselves; the excuses for these people have become stale.

  5. The logic of those excuses is quite twisted: giving a pass to long term bad behavior because the perpetrators come from an immoral society and — allegedly — don’t know any better is bogus. We don’t operate that way in our justice system with people from “dysfunctional” homes who commit crime. There comes a point at which people must accept responsibility for what they do. And the abuses of the Clintonian policy, and the pre-Clinton policies as well, cannot be ignored. This is not about what other “latinos” think of Cubans, this about what Cuban immigrants in massive numbers have done with the privileges afforded to them: they have squandered them. And in the process, they’ve screwed everyone along the way. The fact that people are raised in a “deformed” system doesn’t prevent them from seeing the difference when they arrive and settle here. Isn’t that the reason they come in the first place? Maybe not, huh? The US is filled with legal immigrants from very harsh dictatorships, particularly in Africa, who come for freedom and a fresh start; lots of them reside not far from my place; the stories are harrowing just like the ones along the FL Straits. This country has a very long-standing immigration policy of accepting folks from such “deformed” systems, and worse; but they don’t go back to their original hellholes as soon as they can. Let’s stop kidding ourselves because the excuses for the excesses that have taken place for a long time have become stale.

  6. OJC, you and I see this issue the same way. The merits of doing away with the dry foot, wet foot immigration policy have absolutely nothing to do with where these immigrants come from or on their views pertaining to Communist Cuba or Cuban Americans. It has everything to do with our fair-play core principles. To look the other way at these Cuban immigrants who flaunt the spirit of this policy is to bring shame to all law-abiding Cuban-Americans in this country. It discriminates against other immigrants who are seeking political asylum but lack the protection of a similar immigration policy. While I have been a severe critic of President Obama, I support this decision wholeheartedly — although I’m certain that his reasons for doing so differ from mine.

  7. I’m not excusing or giving passes to anybody. I’m trying to analyze lamentable and counterproductive behavior and figure out what’s behind it. Explaining something is not the same as justifying it, let alone approving it. If you think the “logic” is twisted, that’s because what’s being analyzed is twisted–and deliberately so, by a highly perverse system that set out to create a “new man,” not just retain power. Castro, Inc. is an inveterate parasite, and it has steered Cubans to live parasitically off external sources, either Cubans abroad or the US system when feasible. This leaves the regime more or less off the hook, since Cubans expect practically nothing from it in real terms.

    The yo-yos aren’t just acting for and by themselves; they’re being expected (not to say pressured) to maintain their relatives on the island, who consciously or not exert what I call chantaje sentimental, and as I said, such emotional blackmail works extremely well. We’re definitely not just talking about medicines or indispensable necessities; the yo-yos are expected to provide all sorts of bells and whistles beyond that–in other words, to make it possible for those on the island to have the same things they could have here.

    The whole business is a tapestry of dysfunction with many threads to it, and I no longer expect that much can be done about it barring the end of the underlying cause, which is obviously the totalitarian Castro system. It’s futile to try to talk the yo-yos out of what they’re doing, because they’re not just fine with it; they’re proud of it. They were raised to “resolver” or manage by any means available, to game the system and embrace amorality, so to them it’s perfectly normal to keep doing that here like they did it over there.

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