Cubans stranded in Mexico after policy change

The effects of Obama’s extermination of the “wet foot, dry foot” policy.


Witold Skrypczak

Border crossing to Nuevo Laredo, Mexico, from Laredo, Texas, USA.

By Jack Doverspike, Staff

For 20 years the US allowed Cuban civilians to migrate to the US without a visa and stay for a year in order to gain citizenship. This is the “wet-foot, dry-foot” policy. However, former president Barack Obama dropped this policy on Jan. 12, 2017, leaving thousands of Cuban immigrants who migrated through Central America, to the US border, stranded in Mexico.

Jose Enrique Manresa, a Cuban migrant, and his daughter were denied entry into the US because Obama slashed this policy only hours before Manresa made it to the border. After a 48-day journey, Manresa and his daughter were stuck in Mexico with no home to go back to.

“We risked everything on our journey and if we don’t have the right to live in the US after all that, then there’s no hope for us,” Manresa said in an interview with BBC News.

As American diplomats became stingier with who gets into the US, Cuban civilians have been rushing to the US boarders looking for a new home before it is too late. These Cubans have started traveling across water and through Central America in order to make it across the Mexico-United States border. After Obama took away this policy, Cubans were left in Mexico due to the inability to walk across the border legally after traveling for over a month to get to the location.

“I don’t see a scarlet letter in a political sense that people will wear,” Michael Bustamante, a professor at Florida International University, said in an interview with The World Post.

Once the door was closed on Cubans, they had nowhere else to go. Going back to Cuba was no option because of the stigma the Cuban people and government have against those who attempt to migrate to the US.This stigma is due to political distaste of this policy in Cuba. Cuban government officials have been urging the US to scrap this policy for many years because of the dangers and consequences the trip to the border holds for their citizens.

“Effective immediately, Cuban nationals who attempt to enter the United States illegally and do not qualify for humanitarian relief will be subject to removal . . . . we are treating Cuban migrants the same way we treat migrants from other countries,” Obama said.

Due to this unprecedented change for foreign prosperity with Cuba, Cuban citizens are scrambling for a new sanctuary to call home. The Cubans are unwilling and even scared to go back to Cuba, leaving them to decide whether to sneak across the border into the US or attempt to prosper in Mexico.