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Obama Shouldn't Have Ended Wet Foot, Dry Foot

Obama Shouldn't Have Ended Wet Foot, Dry Foot
Illustration by Alex Izaguirre

President Barack Obama was wrong to end the "wet foot, dry foot" policy for Cuban immigrants. He went along with Democrats, Republicans, and a majority of Cuban-Americans — including Sen. Marco Rubio — who favored ending the policy. Some critics claim Obama's decision puts Cuban on the same playing field as Haitians, who have been the targets of ramped-up deportations since September. Others say that Cuban arrivals abuse government benefits and that ending the policy will put human traffickers out of business.

But consider the case of Jose Fernandez, the young Miami Marlins pitcher who died tragically last year in a boating accident. Fernandez and his mother risked their lives to cross the Florida Straits. Thousands of Cubans have done the same for a chance at freedom.

This is the country that preaches, "Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free." Obama himself loves to brag that America is a nation of immigrants. If you are boarding a rickety raft with the real possibility of dying at sea, you're not doing it to abuse welfare and then return to Cuba.

Cubans who escape their communist nation are not much different from slaves who escaped their masters through Harriet Tubman's Underground Railroad. As a Miami native, I've spent years watching TV news reports of Cubans making it to shore. That's been a marvelous part of life here.

And when I attended Miami Beach Senior High in the 1970s, I remember meeting Cuban kids who faced the same type of discrimination I experienced. Those who arrived on the Mariel Boatlift with their families in 1980 had to stay in a processing center near the Orange Bowl.

Obama has made Donald Trump's job easier. He should have made it harder for the new administration to undo policies that protect immigrants who are threatened at home. Instead of ending "wet foot, dry foot" for Cubans, Obama should have expanded it to include Haitians and other immigrants who make it onto American soil.

Follow Luke on Twitter: @unclelukereal1.

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