Miami Rep. Frank Artiles Calls for End to "Wet-Foot, Dry-Foot" Policy

Miami Rep. Frank Artiles Calls for End to "Wet-Foot, Dry-Foot" Policy
Photo by Mark Foley| Florida House

In light of thawing relations between Cuba and the United States, state Rep. Frank Artiles is now calling for an end to the decades-old "wet-foot, dry-foot" policy regarding immigration from Cuba. The Republican, who represents portions of western Miami-Dade County,has filed a non-binding "memorial" ahead of next year's state legislative session calling on the U.S. House of Representatives to officially repeal the practice. 

"This law provides Cuban migrants with an advantage that migrants of other nationalities do not have," reads Artiles' proposal. "At the time the law was enacted, the Cuban government was not recognized by the United States, the countries did not maintain diplomatic relations, travel between the countries was severely restricted, and Cuban migrants were refugees from political oppression during the Cold War. 

"The Cold War has ended, the United States has recognized the Cuban government, and both countries now maintain diplomatic relations." 

Officially known as the Cuban Adjustment Act, the law was passed in 1966 and gave Cubans special preference in immigration. A 1995 revision gave way to the "wet-foot, dry-foot" policy. Essentially, if a Cuban is caught on water trying to come to America by U.S. officials they are repatriated. If they make it to land, they are giving permanent resident status after a year in the country. 

The future of the policy has been in question due to reopened diplomatic relations between the two nations. 

Artiles' position interestingly falls right in line with that of the Cuban government. Cuba has reportedly asked America to end the policy. Cuba has claimed that the policy will "hinder the normalization of immigration relations."

Presidential candidate Marco Rubio has also called the policy "hard to justify" and has signaled if elected he'd make changes to it but hasn't explained how. 

"When you have people who are coming and a year and a day later are traveling back to Cuba 15 times a year, 12 times, 10 times, eight times, that doesn't look like someone who is fleeing oppression," Rubio told the Associated Press earlier this year. 

Meanwhile, Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen says that Cubans who arrive in America under the policy should not be allowed back to visit Cuba. Cubans can migrate to America through other means, including a visa lottery system. 

Artiles is himself the son of Cuban refugees.

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