The US Congress should repeal the Cuban Adjustment Act, a 1966 law that created an expedited mechanism to admit Cubans in an attempt to undermine the Cuban Revolution, reported the New York Times today.
The times added in its article that under a longstanding policy, called “Wet Foot, Dry Foot,” Cubans who reach the United States get to stay, and those interdicted at sea are returned home.
With one year left in office, the Obama administration appears disinclined to scrap the policy, which gives virtually every Cuban who reaches the U.S. soil the automatic right to settle in the United States and apply for citizenship in a few years, says the article.
The daily also refers in its report that it is time to do away with that policy, a Cold War relic that is hindering the normalization of relations between Washington and Havana.
The article also says that this system has been a boon for human smugglers in Latin America and created burdens for countries from Ecuador to Mexico through which immigrants and smugglers move.
According to the Times, if lawmakers don´t act, the Obama administration has several options. The Cuban Adjustment Act gives the executive branch discretion to admit Cubans who arrive on Americans shores, but it does not require that the government do so.
The Obama administration, emphasizes the Times, should negotiate a new agreement with the Cuban government that makes orderly immigration the norm, and Cubans who arrive in the United States without authorization should be sent back unless they show a credible fear of persecution.
The United States should also end a separate program that encourages Cuban medical professionals on government assignments abroad to defect to the United States, noted the Times.
Even with a change in policy, the U.S. government could still continue to admit a high number of Cuban immigrants who apply for visas from Havana, giving priority to those who have family members in the United States.
The Times cites the situation of thousands of Cubans who have been stuck in Costa Rica for several weeks as an absurdity of the US policy.