May 28, 2017

Obama Ends the Wet Foot, Dry Foot Policy and the Cuban Medical Professional Parole Program

Cubans fleeing the island prison such as these in a tiny raft will not be allowed to enter the United States and will be deported to Cuba even if the bloody regime will put them in prison.

On January 12, 2017, President Barack Obama abruptly ended the Wet Foot, Dry Foot policy established by President Bill Clinton in 1995. Obama also ended the Cuban Medical Professional Parole Program established by President George W. Bush in 2006 that allowed Cuban medical, nurses and dentist professionals who had been sent by the Cuban regime by force to countries in Latin America, Africa, and Asia to receive visas that allowed them to enter the United States. Both of these changes were requested by the Cuban bloody dictator Raúl Castro. President Obama was happy to comply with these outrageous requests by the Cuban regime.

The Cuban Medical Professional Parole Program

The termination of the Cuban Medical Professional Parole Program was shameful since these Cuban health professionals were treated as slaves. They were forced to leave their families behind in Cuba for two years and were sent to Third World countries against their wishes and protests. This program was started by President George W. Bush which was known as “Barrio Afuera” (neighborhood outside) in 2006. “Barrio Adentro (neighborhood inside) was the name of the program initiated by the former dictator Hugo Chávez in Venezuela.

The communist regime of Venezuela for many years sent 100,000 barrels of free oil in exchange for the enslaved medical doctors, dentists, and nurses and others who were sent against their will to work in that nation. Now, of course, Venezuela is bankrupt and has had to drastically reduce the shipment of free oil to Cuba.

This writer had a cousin who was happily married with two kids in the city of Camagüey, Cuba. Thugs from the Cuban secret police came to his office one day and told him that he needed to go home prepare his bags since he would be sent to Venezuela in a few hours. This writer’s cousin said that he did not want to go to Venezuela as he was happily married and had two small children. His request to stay in Cuba was denied. He was forced to leave his wife, small children, brothers and sisters, and parents behind and that very day he was sent to a remote city in Venezuela. He was placed in a house that belonged to a communist family who supported the brutal regime of Venezuela. Secret police from Cuba closely supervised several doctors who had been sent with him to that remote city.

This writer’s cousin was not allowed to watch Venezuelan television, only Cuban television. He had to remain in Venezuela for two years before he could return home. Cuba is a nation that participates in human trafficking worldwide and yet Barack Obama removed Cuba from the list of nations that participate in human trafficking which was shameful.

Other nations in Latin America, Africa, and Asia that received these Cuban professionals would pay the Cuban regime $5,000 a month and the Cuban doctors were given a salary of $200 a month. The Mafia that runs the Cuban regime enriched themselves with the millions of dollars that came as a result of human trafficking.

From 2006 to 2015 more than 8,000 Cuban doctors, nurses, and dentists were given visas to enter the United States. In 2015, 1,663 Cuban health professionals came to the United States.

The Wet Foot, Dry Foot Policy

As a result of another shameful concession given by President Barack Obama to the Cuban regime, Cubans will no longer be allowed to stay and become legal residents if they enter the United States illegally. Cubans will be promptly deported back to the island prison and could face incarceration and harassment. It is true that other immigrants were not given this privilege and this has been resented by other Latin Americans.

The repeal of this longstanding immigration policy by President Obama that allowed any Cuban who made it to the United States soil to stay and become a legal resident became effective immediately. Sadly, the Cuban regime gave no assurances about treatment of those sent back to the country.

The Wet Foot, Dry Foot policy was done in 1995 by President Bill Clinton as a revision of a more liberal immigration policy. Until then, Cubans captured at sea trying to make their way to the United States were permitted to remain into the country and were able to become legal residents after a year. The United States was reluctant to send people back to the communist island then run by the brutal dictator Fidel Castro, and the Cuban regime also generally refused to accept repatriated citizens.

Obama with less than a week to remain as president used an administrative rule change to end the policy. Future President Donald Trump could undo that rule next week if he so desires. He has criticized Obama’s policy to improve relations with Cuba.

Many Cubans were fearful that the current immigration policy would change and they would not be allowed to enter the United States. As a result of that concern, tens of thousands of Cubans left the island prison and entered Ecuador since the normalization of relations between the United States and Cuba. Cuban families, often with little children, crossed from that nation to Colombia, Central America, and Mexico in an effort to cross the border into the United States. There are still thousands who are left in several countries of Latin America and now they would not be able to come to America.

During the last fiscal year, more than 54,000 Cubans arrived at the United States border points or by sea without visas. Since October 2012, more than 118,000 Cubans have presented themselves at ports of entry along the border, according to statistics published by the Homeland Security Department.

Many Cuban Americans have wondered why Obama would want to make it more difficult for Cubans to stay in America and pursue citizenship. Several thousand Syrian refugees have entered the country even though FBI and other intelligence agencies officials have testified in Congress that there may be terrorists posing as refugees. Tens of thousands unaccompanied minors and thousands of adults have also entered America from its southern border. Many Cuban Americans believe that the reason for these changes in policies was to give more gifts by Obama to his new friend, the brutal dictator Raúl Castro.

Perhaps it was payback because the majority of Cuban Americans in the United States voted for Donald Trump. This middle finger to the Cuban community was likely part of a last-minute policy changes Obama made to the Cuban regime on his way out of office.

The Cuban communist officials praised Obama’s action, calling the new agreement “an important step in advancing relations” between the United States and Cuba that “aims to guarantee normal, safe and ordered migration.” Leaving Cuba is a crime. Whether the Cubans sent back to Cuba under Obama’s new policy will be tortured, jailed, or executed is an open question but not one that Barack Obama cares about. Open borders are now okay for unaccompanied children and adults from Central America and Mexico, Islamic terrorists everyone except Cubans.

President Obama’s Statement on ending the Wet Foot, Dry Foot Policy and the Cuban Medical Professional Parole Program

Today, the United States is taking important steps forward to normalize relations with Cuba and to bring greater consistency thought immigration policy. The Department of Homeland Security is ending the so-called Wet Foot, Dry Foot policy, which was put in place more than 20 years ago and was the signed for a different era.

Effective immediately, Cuban nationals who attempt to enter the United States illegally and do not qualify for humanitarian relief will be subject to removal, consistent with U.S. law and enforcement priorities. By taking this step, we are treating Cuban migrants the same way we treat migrants from other countries. The Cuban government has agreed to accept the return of Cuban nationals who have been ordered removed, just as it has been accepting the return of migrants interdicted at sea.

Today, the Department of Homeland Security is also ending the Cuban Medical Professional Parole Program. The United States and Cuba are working together to combat the diseases that endanger the health and lives of our people. By providing preferential treatment to Cuba medical personnel, the medical bodily program contradicts those efforts, and risks harming the Cuban people. Cuba medical personnel will now be eligible to apply for asylum at United States embassies and consulates around the world, consistent with the procedures for all foreign nationals.

The United States is the land of immigrants, has been enriched by the contributions of Cuban Americans for more than a century. Since I took office, we have put the Cuban-American community at the center of our policies. With this change we will continue to welcome Cubans as we welcome immigrants for other nations, consistent with our laws. During my administration, we work to improve the lives of the Cuban people-inside of Cuba-by providing them with greater access to resources, information and connectivity to the wider world. To staining that approach is the best way to ensure that Cubans can enjoy prosperity, pursue reforms, and determine their own destiny. As I have said in Havana, the future of Cuba should be in the hands of the Cuban people.

ros-lehtinen mario db menendez

Cuban Americans in Congress from both political parties denounced Barack Obama

Almost immediately, Cuban Americans from both political parties wrote statements denouncing the changes made by outgoing President Barack Obama. The Babalú Blog published an article describing the comments made by three Cuban Americans in Congress. Below are the comments made by Ileana Ros- Lehtinen, Mario Díaz-Balart, and Bob Menendez.

Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (Republican from southern Florida) stated the following:

“Castro uses refugees as pawns to get more concessions from Washington so there is no reason to do away with the Cuban medical doctor program, which is a foolhardy concession to a regime that sends its doctors to foreign nations in a modern-day indentured servitude. The repeal of the Cuban Medical Professional Parole Program was done because that’s what the Cuban dictatorship wanted and the White House caved to what Castro wants, instead of standing up for U.S. democratic values and seeking the return of fugitives from U.S. justice like Joanne Chesimard or seeking compensation for U.S. citizens for their confiscated properties.

In another bad deal by the Obama administration, it has traded wet foot/dry foot for the elimination of an important program which was undermining the Castro regime by providing an outlet for Cuban doctors to seek freedom from forced labor which only benefits an oppressive regime.”

Congressman Mario Díaz-Balart (Republican from southern Florida) stated the following:

“With just eight days left in his administration, President Obama has found one more way to frustrate the democratic aspirations of the Cuban people and provide yet another shameful concession to the Castro regime. Under President Obama’s misguided view, after having removed the Castro regime from the state sponsor of terror list and granting diplomatic recognition, the next logical step is denying oppressed Cubans the presumption of political asylum.

Since 1966, the Cuban Refugee Adjustment Act has provided a lifeline to generations of Cubans fleeing oppression.  Many made the treacherous journey to begin their lives anew in freedom, and others perished trying to escape.  In addition, the Cuban Medical Professional Parole Program provided a way for doctors forced to work under inhumane conditions for paltry salaries in foreign lands to escape their servitude.

President Obama’s policy toward the Castro regime has not improved human rights or increased liberty on the island.  To the contrary, documented political arrests reached close to 10,000 in 2016 as renowned activists such as Berta Soler, Danilo Maldonado Machado “El Sexto,” and labor activists including Ivan Carrillo Hernandez suffered brutal arrests just in the past few weeks.  El Sexto remains in prison today and his American lawyer, Kim Motley, was harassed and interrogated while in Cuba simply for representing him.  Cubans are leaving the island in record numbers, and many of the 53 who were released as part of the Obama-Castro deal were subsequently rearrested.

President Obama’s numerous concessions and extension of diplomatic recognition to the murderous Castro regime does not constitute an achievement.  To the contrary, his policy has been a succession of betrayals of America’s longstanding commitment to human rights and freedom, and a betrayal of the Cuban people who have suffered under oppression for far too long.  This last act of diminishing lifelines to Cubans languishing in totalitarianism is one final despicable betrayal of a people who deserve better from an American president.

With just eight days left in his administration, President Obama has found one more way to frustrate the democratic aspirations of the Cuban people and provide yet another shameful concession to the Castro regime.  Under President Obama’s misguided view, after having removed the Castro regime from the state sponsor of terror list and granting diplomatic recognition, the next logical step is denying oppressed Cubans the presumption of political asylum.

Since 1966, the Cuban Refugee Adjustment Act has provided a lifeline to generations of Cubans fleeing oppression.  Many made the treacherous journey to begin their lives anew in freedom, and others perished trying to escape.  In addition, the Cuban Medical Professional Parole Program provided a way for doctors forced to work under inhumane conditions for paltry salaries in foreign lands to escape their servitude.

President Obama’s policy toward the Castro regime has not improved human rights or increased liberty on the island.  To the contrary, documented political arrests reached close to 10,000 in 2016 as renowned activists such as Berta Soler, Danilo Maldonado Machado “El Sexto,” and labor activists including Ivan Carrillo Hernandez suffered brutal arrests just in the past few weeks.  El Sexto remains in prison today and his American lawyer, Kim Motley, was harassed and interrogated while in Cuba simply for representing him.  Cubans are leaving the island in record numbers, and many of the 53 who were released as part of the Obama-Castro deal were subsequently rearrested.

President Obama’s numerous concessions and extension of diplomatic recognition to the murderous Castro regime does not constitute an achievement.  To the contrary, his policy has been a succession of betrayals of America’s longstanding commitment to human rights and freedom, and a betrayal of the Cuban people who have suffered under oppression for far too long.  This last act of diminishing lifelines to Cubans languishing in in totalitarianism is one final despicable betrayal of a people who deserve better from an American president.”

Senator Bob Menendez (Democrat from New Jersey) stated the following:

“As a beacon of light for those fleeing persecution and oppression, the United States has a rich history of creating programs specifically designed to provide a safe haven and refuge for those who truly need it. Throughout their murderous reign, hundreds of thousands of Cubans have fled from the Castros’ regime seeking safe haven in the United States. Those who further risked their lives by sea and reached our shores have been afforded the opportunity to expedite their claims to U.S. citizenship.

These policies reflect our commitment to the values of liberty and democracy. We should never deny a Cuban refugee fleeing a brutal regime entry into the United States. We must remind ourselves every day of the continued oppression and human suffering that is happening – not only halfway around the world, but just 90 miles off our shores. The ongoing repressive behavior of the Cuban regime still haunts our hemisphere today.

The fact is the recent ill-conceived changes in American policy towards Cuba have rewarded the regime with an economic lifeline while leaving every day Cubans less hopeful about their futures under a brutal totalitarian dictatorship.  And while more needs to be done to prevent the small universe arriving from Cuba who may seek to exploit the privileges and freedoms that come with the Wet-Foot Dry-Foot policy, those few actors should not destroy our efforts to protect the many who are forced to flee persecution.

To be sure, today’s announcement will only serve to tighten the noose the Castro regime continues to have around the neck of its own people. Congress was not consulted prior to this abrupt policy announcement with just nine days left in this administration. The Obama administration seeks to pursue engagement with the Castro regime at the cost of ignoring the present state of torture and oppression, and its systematic curtailment of freedom.”

Senator Marco Rubio Slams Reversal of Wet Foot, Dry Foot Policy

On January 13, 2017, Alberto de la Cruz wrote an article titled “Slamming Door Shut.”

Senator Marco Rubio

Senator Marco Rubio denounced Obama’s reversal of the Wet Foot, Dry-Foot.

Alberto de la Cruz said that Senator Rubio stated that the sudden increase in Cubans migrating from the island over the past two years was a direct result of President Obama’s new Cuba policy of embracing the Castro regime. Nevertheless, after Obama creates a migration crises from Cuba, Obama suddenly decide to slam shut the door. The Florida senator sharply criticized the Obama Administration’s decision to end the Wet Foot, Dry Foot Policy. The new policy eliminates the preferential treatment of Cuban migrants. Senator Rubio slammed President Obama’s Cuba policy saying it has contributed to the rise in Cuban migration since 2014.

The senator from Florida admitted that changes to the Cuban Adjustment Act were needed, but argued that “we must work to ensure that Cubans who arrive here to escape political persecution are not summarily returned to the regime.” The senator has been a strong opponent of President Obama’s efforts to normalize relations with the Cuban regime.

He also agreed the comments made by Representatives Ileana Ros- Lehtinen and Mario Díaz-Balart, and Senator Bob Menendez who opposed the elimination of the Cuban Medical Professional Parole Program. The program allowed Cuban doctors to seek asylum in the United States. “For decades, the Castro regime has forced thousands of doctors to go abroad as a tool of its foreign policy,” said Senator Rubio. The Florida Republican said he has discussed the issue with Vice President-elect Mike Pence and is looking forward to the new administration’s commitment to repeal the Obama Cuba policy.

Conclusion

President Obama’s policy toward the brutal Castro regime has been a complete failure. It has not improved human rights or increased liberty on the island. On the contrary, the regime has increased its repression. Obama’s Cuban policy as stated by Congressman Mario Díaz-Balart “has been a succession of betrayals of America’s longstanding commitment to human rights and freedom, and a betrayal of the Cuban people who have suffered under oppression for far too long.”

Frank de Varona is an educator, historian, journalist, and internationally known expert on politics, economics, foreign affairs and national security issues. He was born in Cuba and, at the age of 17, he participated on the Bay of Pigs invasion in an effort to eradicate communism in Cuba. After spending two years in prison, he returned to the United States, where he earned three college degrees. He is married to Dr. Haydée Prado, a clinical psychologist, and has a daughter Irene and a grandson Danny.  Professor de Varona had a 36-year career in the Miami-Dade County Public Schools as a social studies teacher, principal, region director, region superintendent, associate superintendent of instruction and interim deputy superintedent of schools. He also was an associate professor of social studies in the College of Education at Florida International Education for seven years.  Professor de Varona has written 22 books and over 400 hundred articles in newspapers and magazines. His most recent book is entitled – The Gathering Threat of Russia, China, and Their Allies to America (2016) –  Frank de Varona is a Director of Bear Witness Central in the Miami-Dade area.

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