President Obama announced Thursday an finish to the 20-year-old "wet foot, dry foot" plan that allowed most Cuban migrants who reach U.S. Soil to stay and also become legal permanent inhabitants after one year.

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President Obama issued a statement Thursday evening saying the U.S. Is functioning to normalize relations with that one-time foe, and ending this policy to be the following logical step.

"Effective immediately, Cuban nationals that attempt to enter the United claims illegally and do no qualify because that humanitarian relief will be subject to removal," Obama said. "By acquisition this step, we are treating Cuban migrants the same way we treat migrants from other countries."

The "wet foot, dried foot" policy, created by chairman Clinton in 1995, has generally allowed Cubans who just touch U.S. Soil to stay in the country. Those captured at sea are returned to Cuba. In exchange because that the new policy, Cuba has actually agreed to begin accepting Cubans that were approve a deportation stimulate in the united States, something the communist nation has refused to do for decades.

The decision, formalized in a share statement authorize by both governments Thursday, comes together Obama tries to cement his historic opening of diplomatic connections with Cuba and one week prior to President-elect Donald Trump bring away office.

Obama ended an ext than five years of isolation v Cuba in December 2014 and also visited the island in 2016. Trump has actually said he would certainly renegotiate the U.S. Dealings with Cuba, and also ending the "wet foot, dry foot" plan could affect Trump"s plans.

Cubans sirloin to U.S. Shores prior to easy entrance ends

Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., that has advocated for closer ties through Cuba, praised the move.

"Individuals ~ above both sides of the U.S.-Cuba controversy recognize and agree that finishing ‘wet foot, dry foot’ is in our nationwide interest," Flake said. "It’s a relocate that bring our Cuba policy into the modern era, while allowing the United states to proceed its generous technique to those individuals and also refugees v a legitimate case for asylum."

Others were enraged, arguing that Cuba"s communist regime continues to hurt the human being rights of that citizens. Candid Calzon, executive director that the facility for a cost-free Cuba, referred to as Obama"s decision "another instance of a heartless international policy."

Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, a Cuban-American Republican from Florida, agreed. "With simply eight work left in his administration, president Obama has uncovered one more way to frustrate the democratic aspirations the the Cuban people and provide yet an additional shameful concession to the Castro regime," he said.

Cubans have actually received favorable therapy from the united States ever due to the fact that Fidel Castro took control of the island in 1959 and declared that a communist ally of the Soviet Union. Congress passed the Cuban Adjustment action in 1966 that enabled tens of hundreds of Cubans who had currently fled Castro"s change to gain legal status in the U.S.

When the Soviet Union fell down in 1991, the left Cuba in economic ruin, prompting thousands more to require to the sea for the joined States on makeshift boats and also rafts. To end the crisis, Clinton spreading the "wet foot, dried foot" policy.

Rumors that the plan would finish have to be rampant in Cuba since the 2014 rapprochement between the 2 countries, prompting a surging of Cubans fleeing because that the unified States. In the year prior to Obama and Cuban chairman Raúl Castro announced the opened of diplomatic relations, 24,278 Cubans got to the U.S. That number virtually doubled in 2015 and also surpassed 54,000 in 2016, follow to the White House.

Many Cubans continue traveling come the U.S. By sea in rickety, dangerous boats built from spare components in Cuba. In current years, more Cubans have actually taken advantage of regulations that permit them to take trip to Ecuador, where thousands have started the long, dangerous land voyage throughout Venezuela, central America and Mexico to reach the southwest border.

Wave of Cubans lastly reach U.S. ~ grueling soil journey

The Obama management said the rise in Cubans risking their stays to with the U.S. Played vital factor in that decision. Deputy national Security adviser Ben Rhodes said the enhancing diplomatic relationship between the two countries also contributed.

For example, U.S. Officials met Thursday v their Cuban counterparts in Washington come coordinate efforts to combat person trafficking, and also another set of federal government officials met in Havana to talk about outstanding insurance claims by U.S. Citizens who had actually their building confiscated throughout Fidel Castro’s revolution.

Rhodes pointed come one much more factor: most Cubans now pertained to the U.S. "for much more traditional reasons, in terms of seeking economic opportunity," rather of fleeing in fear of the Castro regime as in the past.

That"s why the U.S. Have to treat them the exact same as economic migrants from any kind of other country, Rhodes said.

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"There"s not going to be a different queue because that Cubans," the said. "It just treats the Cuban migrants favor migrants from various other countries."

Under the brand-new joint agreement, the U.S. Will certainly still expropriate at the very least 20,000 Cubans each year through classic immigration channels.