Obama will end 'wet foot, dry foot' policy for fleeing Cubans

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The action comes just days into Obama's final days in office.

Schultz also issued a plea to the Cuban community in America to urge their friends and relatives to reconsider plans to come to America illegally. "By taking this step, we are treating Cuban migrants the same way we treat migrants from other countries".

The decision was done through an administrative rule that can end the policy immediately.

In Colombia's capital, a group of Cuban doctors who applied for the program several weeks ago staged a protest urging the USA embassy to not cancel their applications. That's an increase from 40,000 in 2015. Over the years, thousands of Cuban migrants have landed on Florida's beaches, sometimes to the cheers of locals. Many didn't make it.

At the moment, the Cuban government does not permit migrants who have been away from the country for four years or more to return.

Obama also announced that the Department of Homeland Security was ending the Cuban Medical Professional Parole Program, which had allowed Cuban medical personnel conscripted to work in a third country under the direction of the Cuban government to enter the United States.

US and Cuban officials were meeting Thursday in Washington to coordinate efforts to fight human trafficking. But it doesn't mean we have any less sympathy for citizens of other Central and South American countries with corrupt governments in disarray.

Cuban officials had sought the change for years. Fidel Castro is dead and Raul Castro won't be around forever.

Nearly 90,000 Cubans arrived in the USA this way in 2014 and 2015.

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The open-door policy had attracted millions to flee the Caribbean island. Florida Senator Marco Rubio, the son of Cuban immigrants, called the law "no longer justified" in 2016. The US has always made an exception in our immigration law for those being persecuted or oppressed under a Communist regime. Many Cubans now regularly travel back and forth between the two countries, making the policy a harder sell on human rights grounds.

Trump won the GOP nomination partially on immigration.

For 32-year-old Cuban electrical engineer Yuniesky Marcos Roque and his son, Kevin, crossing the border into the United States on Thursday night was a bittersweet moment. The "wet foot, dry foot" policy was actually put in place by Democratic president Bill Clinton in 1995.

Trump's in a tricky spot.

Not everybody was thrilled with Obama's decision.

Advocates for ending the policy hailed the administration's move.

Cuban-American voters voting for Republicans embarrasses Obama.

"Every effort will be made by the Coast Guard to stop illegal voyages before they potentially end in tragedy", Schultz said.

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