Obama Ends “Wet Foot, Dry Foot,” Cuban Refugees Get The Hot Foot

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Joe Alton Contributor
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In his latest 11th hour maneuver to preserve his legacy, President Barack Obama ended a policy of long-standing assistance to Cuban refugees attempting to leave the Communist dictatorship. Bill Clinton’s 1995 program, known as “Wet Foot, Dry Foot”, allowed anyone who fled Cuba and managed to set foot in the United States the right to pursue residency a year later.

Mr. Obama, in a released statement, said that the measure was “designed for a different era.”

Normally, the Coast Guard returns migrants that it interdicts at sea to their home country, including Cubans. Cubans were given special treatment if they reached land due to the long history of human rights abuses by the Castro regime. The Obama administration, which ignores Cuba’s dismal humanitarian record, is eliminating “Wet Foot, Dry Foot” in an effort to further ingratiate itself with Raul Castro.

The 2006 Cuban Medical Professional Parole Program is also being rescinded. This policy allowed Cuban medical personnel to receive U.S. visas if they defect while traveling outside of Cuba. A program that helps U.S. citizens get family members out of the island nation will remain in place.

The end of “Wet Foot, Dry Foot” has been met, so far, by precious little commentary from conservative writers. In fact, many of those on the right concerned by open borders might even welcome it. Some bemoan the policy as unfair to migrants from other countries. But Cuba’s human rights abuses have been constant since before Castro’s 1959 revolution, leading to many waves of those seeking freedom (not just economic improvement) since then. Their goal, whether they arrived in 1959 or yesterday, is to assimilate into American society, not disrupt it.

I look at the president’s action and see the undercurrent: Barack Obama is saying “Go to Hell” to the only Latin voters that dare to throw a higher percentage of votes to Republican candidates.

This higher number of Republican votes is mostly from older Cubans who arrived soon after Fidel Castro took power. Younger Cuban immigrants are used to big socialist governments and tend to vote Democrat. I’ll admit the generation that arrived here as a result of Castro’s 1959 revolution is slowly passing into history. Despite this, Pew Research noted that heavily Cuban-American voting districts stayed in the Republican column in 2016.
The Democrats’ failure to corral the Cuban vote as firmly as they do other Latins is quite extraordinary, and, to Mr. Obama, extraordinary measures are necessary to punish them. Therefore, he hit the two-for-one by rescinding “Wet Foot, Dry Foot”: Make Raul Castro happy and stick it to Latins who might not pull the lever marked “D”.

The Democrats’ open border proclivities seem to apply only to those who will reliably vote with them when they become citizens (or, in some places, flash a fake ID?). They feel that If you can swim the Rio Grande, you’re welcome to come in. If you cross 90 miles of shark-infested ocean in rafts made from inner tubes and trash, however, not so much.

Raul Castro has agreed to accept back the Cuban refugees the U.S. returns as a result of the end of “Wet Foot, Dry Foot.” Given Mr. Castro’s record on dissenters, I wouldn’t want to be one of them.