Two Cubans nationals who were deemed “inadmissible” for entry into the U.S. became the first to be sent back to Cuba by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) since former President Obama ended the “wet foot, dry foot” immigration policy on January 12.
The two women were placed on a flight to Havana this morning. ICE didn’t specify when or where they arrived in the U.S., but an ICE official told the press that this is the first “removal flight” since the elimination of “wet foot, dry foot.”
“Wet foot, dry foot” was a relic of the Clinton administration. Under the policy, Cubans who were intercepted on the waters between Cuba and the U.S. (“wet feet”) were deported back to the island, and Cubans who arrived on shore (“dry feet”) would qualify for residency as stipulated by the Cuban Adjustment Act of 1966.
The women reportedly arrived at Miami International Airport with European passports. They requested asylum and were detained. Wilfred Allen, their immigration attorney, told news sources that the women wanted to return to Cuba and already had their return tickets. They even asked Allen to suspend their asylum application. Allen believes that the fact ICE deported them even after they voluntarily asked to return sends a “negative message.”
Last week, 172 Cubans were reportedly detained by ICE following the end of “wet foot, dry foot.” The migrants are reportedly being held in undisclosed detention facilities as they await the results of their removal proceedings. ICE did not say how many of them have applied for asylum.
The U.S. Coast Guard also escorted 11 Cubans intercepted at sea back to the island today. Coast Guard officials said the number of Cubans trying to enter the U.S. through Florida has decreased significantly since the elimination of “wet foot, dry foot.”