Special Treatments of Cubans Ended?

cuba-street-rotator-720x480The Obama administration announced the end of the ‘wet-foot-dry-foot’ policy for Cubans on January 12. This executive action repealed the executive action of President Clinton that provided refugee treatment for any Cuban making it onto U.S. soil – including at a legal port of entry. This was a much needed change in policy for a variety of reasons, but it was too late in coming, and it did not go far enough to remove special immigration treatment of Cubans.

The announcement was too late because it allowed additional tens of thousands of Cubans to take advantage of the refugee treatment after the administration announced restoration of diplomatic relations with the island in July 2015. And it did not go far enough because it left in place another questionable executive action of President Clinton that increased the flow of Cuban migrants. That action, adopted as a concession to Fidel Castro’s regime, was to try to lessen the incentive for illegal immigration by Cubans to the United States by establishing a special quota of 20,000 immigrant visas for Cubans to immigrate legally. This action was outside the immigration law and applies to nationals of no other country. Its legality is questionable.

Just as there was no legitimate reason for the now-ended policy accepting illegally arriving Cubans as refugees, there is also no legitimate reason for maintaining the special quota system of immigrant visas for Cubans.

A further change that needs to be adopted is for Congress to repeal the Cuban Adjustment Act (CAA) enacted in 1966 to provide automatic legal residence as refugees for Cubans who had arrived illegally a year earlier. If Cubans now arriving illegally are being deported like other illegal aliens, the CAA will lose much of its meaning. But, because of deportation backlogs and the efforts of immigration lawyers to drag out deportation proceedings, the CCA still represents a flaw in treating Cubans like other nationals and should be withdrawn.

About Author


Jack, who joined FAIR’s National Board of Advisors in 2017, is a retired U.S. diplomat with consular experience. He has testified before the U.S. Congress, U.S. Civil Rights Commission, and U.S. Commission on Immigration Reform and has authored studies of immigration issues. His national and international print, TV, and talk radio experience is extensive (including in Spanish).


  1. avatar

    you expect anything different from cry baby oboma , all his kissing up to the castro’s pissed off the cubans in fl. so they voted for trump . and gave oboma the middle fingure , so this is how he strikes back, after yesterday i bet oboma is having 1 hell of a temper tantrum

    • avatar

      HAHAHA!!! The Cubans in FL think they are whites and Republicans…….they never voted for Obama ….

  2. avatar
    Gerald Williams on

    At least Cubans tend to vote Republican, which is another reason why Obama didn’t mind doing this.
    Not sure if the more recent young Cubans vote
    Also, except for when Jimmy Carter allowed thousands of Cuba’s worst prisoners to enter the USA, most are hard working. However, Florida doesn’t need more Spanish-only speaking immigrants. I’m sure it has turned off migration of Americans form around the USA to S. Florida.

  3. avatar

    Well Jack too late does not count since a worst case scenario is will never happened BUT Obama the man you all hate did it,

    • avatar

      I am not saying you hate him, But if comments are approved to insult the president in hatred and allowed to remain in the feedback = you all hate…..by inference and accountability……that is all …just eye-opening

      Obamas term could have been one of the best ever and then have the Republicans next to do EVEN BETTER but the Republicans are TOO OLD!!!I

      I don’t believe in age but on the Republican inability to work as a country, so therefore old. Look at Ryan, clueless…….what will you place instead of Obama care…do you have a plan?….Well we have ideas…HA!!!

      After all this time and cry/lie to us…..you still have no plan…WAIT but we are going to repeal it….Republicans=Obsoltee

  4. avatar

    Jack this is another executive order much needed the Republicans never cared to fix …. and I mean they ruined Obamas’ 8 years in office and therefore The People … instead of improving and fixing the democrats’ work to stop the country for 8 years …..

  5. avatar

    IMO Trump Was Gonna End the Cuban Open Border Plan Anyway

    Obama knew this and possibly Trump/Obama found agreement to end it without a Trump EO [they admitted on their recent WH meeting they did find some agreement].

    Did you hear Obama’s good-bye speech? He just loves the Constitution and listens to “We the People” carefully….yeah right….how about he just wants to leave and remembered for being a good guy….whether he deserves it or not IMO.

    • avatar

      Well nobody did it until Obama so in history that remains…..the speech was world class and touched every aspect and reality that has happened and t happen….a good guy?… you have an issue …. your mind is not clear and sees the president at fault regardless what he does…. you should **** out with McConnell…..

        • avatar

          HAHAHA!!! SWE how do you know that? did he tell you? .. aren’t you ashamed at your early age you are lazy like your children and gave up working?… Trump will throw you out…..

          • avatar

            You are still using “No Change” to sign in, but in a couple of days things are going to change no matter how much you troll FAIR’s blog. Have you lined up an easy job on the beach in Cabo like I suggested yet? I think it would be better to be proactive than wait around and troll FAIR’s blog until you are deported back home.

          • avatar

            SecBorders i have news for you, unlike you I have the money to go to cabo and take it easy also, I am not in your land….You are in my land….remember that… my ancestors built this land with effort and vision somenthing you will never have nor your out of the boat parents or great grand parents unless you re a H1 visa or a muslim spying on us under SecBorders Bubba!!!!hahahaha!!!!

          • avatar

            When you are back home in Mexico will you continue to troll FAIR’s blog or will you use your free time productively to work to make Mexico a better place to live?

          • avatar

            SecBorders you are basically the deadwood of this country and you exhibit poor judgement…….

  6. avatar

    For whatever reason he did this long needed step, let’s just be happy he did it. I’ve seen plenty of interviews on tv from Cubans crying that there are no opportunities in that country. Then make some and if you have a government that’s bad then get rid of it. Stop being the compliant puppy dogs of the Castros. Uncle Sugar cannot take care of the whole world.

    Those who really need refugee status generally stay there. The group known as Ladies In White marches after Mass in Havana every Sunday in opposition to the government, and that has brought them harassment and sometimes detention. Those people deserve our support and attention, not the people who run away. And in spite of those who deny it, many of the people coming here become involved in economic crimes of all sorts and then skip back to Cuba. The South Florida Sun Sentinel ran a series of stories in 2015 called The Cuban Criminal Pipeline. The same paper also detailed the huge welfare costs to our government.

      • avatar

        He only did it after the election. Not that I expected anything else because both sides cater to the Cubans in the biggest swing state. He was wrong on “opening up relations with Cuba” because as usual he gave up everything and got nothing in return. The Cubans know better than to expect the kid gloves from Trump.