The United States clashed with Cuba yesterday over the issue of immigration at the very first session of talks designed to see diplomatic ties restored between the two nations, which have been at loggerheads ever since the Cold War. The US has vowed to continue giving special status to immigrants from Cuba, despite Cuban objections.
Almost every Cuban immigrant who arrives on US soil is allowed to remain, even though undocumented immigrants from most other nations would immediately be deported in similar situations. “We explained to the Cuban government that our government is completely committed to upholding the Cuban Adjustment Act, that the set of migration-related policies that are colloquially known as wet foot/dry foot very much remain in effect,” explained Alex Lee, an official with the State Department.
The policy means that Cubans who reach dry land are allowed to stay in the United States; however, those caught at sea by law enforcement officials can be turned back. That Cuba is still very much opposed to this law was reiterated by Josefina Vidal, a Cuban foreign ministry official, who believes that the policy encourages human trafficking, hazardous trips over the Florida Straits on often dangerously flimsy ships, and undocumented immigration as a whole.
President Obama and Cuban president Raul Castro made the announcement of a historic breakthrough in negotiations between the two countries on December 17th. Obama told Congress that the former policy had failed to work in 50 years of operation and that the time had come to “try something new”.