January 13, 2017
WASHINGTON—On January 12, 2017, the Obama Administration announced the end of the Wet Foot/Dry Foot policy towards Cuban arrivals, which allows Cubans who arrive onto American soil to stay in the U.S. and apply to become legal residents while returning those Cubans intercepted at sea back to Cuba. Bishop Joe Vasquez of Austin, Texas, chairman of the Committee on Migration at the U. S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, stated in response to the announcement, "I am disappointed over the Administration's sudden policy change to end the 'Wet Foot/ Dry Foot' policy for Cuban arrivals."
Bishop Vasquez noted in regards to the Administration's actions, "While we have welcomed normalizing relations with Cuba, the violation of basic human rights remains a reality for some Cubans and the Wet Foot/Dry Foot policy helped to afford them a way to seek refuge in the United States."
Noting the remarkable contributions of Cuban Americans to our society, Bishop Vasquez stated: "Cuban Americans have been one of the most successful immigrant groups in U.S. history. The protections afforded them were a model of humane treatment." The end of the Wet Foot/Dry Foot policy, Bishop remarked, "will make it more difficult for vulnerable populations in Cuba, such as asylum seekers, children, and trafficking victims, to seek protection."
Going forward, Bishop Vasquez, stated: "My brother Bishops and I pledge to work with the outgoing and incoming administrations to ensure humane treatment for vulnerable populations, from Cuba and elsewhere, seeking refuge in the United States."
Keywords: Obama Administration, Wet Foot/Dry Foot policy, Bishop Joe Vasquez, Committee on Migration, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Cuba, human rights, humane treatment, legal residency, asylum seekers, children, trafficking, vulnerable populations.
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