77ºF

South Florida Cubans have mixed reactions to end of 'wet foot, dry foot' policy

Some say policy outdated

MIAMI – Mixed reactions are coming through South Florida since President Barack Obama announced Thursday that he is repealing the "wet foot, dry foot" policy.

Cuban migrants can still seek political asylum, but will be treated the way migrants from every other country are. 

"To me, it's very suspicious that the president has done this so suddenly. They have been working on it for a year," Ramon Saul Sanchez, president of the Democracy Movement, said.

Some have their suspicions about the Obama administration's last minute foreign policy change, which no longer allows Cuban migrants to automatically stay in America if they reach U.S. soil.

Saul Sanchez said he just hopes that the Cuban people are not being utilized for political reasons and believes that this will send a sense of panic through Cuba.

"I would advise the Coast Guard, I would advise the government of the United States, to be on guard because a lot of people may die in the Straits of Florida trying to leave Cuba because they're afraid they won't ever reunite with their families who live here, and to live in freedom like we all do," Saul Sanchez said.

Over morning cafecito, Cuban-Americans discussed their opinions, several agreeing with Obama's decision, saying the policy was outdated and needs to be revised.

"A lot of the Cubans, the generation back then, they actually came here and they worked and they fought for their freedom. They appreciated the freedom versus, today, we just come and think we deserve everything automatically, and it doesn't work that way," Jannette Guillen said.

"It's a horrible place. I mean, what they suffer we can't imagine," Frank Cantero said. "We think we can, but we really can't. So when they come over here, they're looking for a better life for themselves, but if it's so bad, why do you continue going back? Why do you continue visiting? Why do you continue taking advantage of what we're offering you when we bring you into this country?"

The Cuban Adjustment Act remains in place, which allows Cubans to get permanent residency after being in the states for a year, but that will be harder to achieve with the end to the "wet foot, dry foot" policy.