[JURIST] US President Barack Obama [official website] said on Thursday that he is ending the “wet-foot, dry-foot” policy [press release], which automatically allowed Cuban migrants to stay in the US. This repeal will be effective immediately. Obama said Cuban migrants will now be treated “the same way we treat migrants from other countries.” The Cuban government has agreed [Chicago Tribune report] to take back migrants if the time from the migrants’ departure from Cuba and deportation are less than four years. The Cuban government called the repeal “an important step in advancing relations” between the two countries. However, the “wet-foot, dry-foot” policy could be reinstated by Donald Trump [campaign website] after he assumes office, as Trump has disagreed with Obama’s willingness to increase ties with Cuba.
After a decades-long strained relationship between the US and Cuba, Obama began to take steps in 2014 to improve the diplomatic relationship [JURIST backgrounder] between the two countries. In November Obama gave his condolences [JURIST report] to the people of Cuba and Fidel Castro’s family after Castro’s death. In 2015 the US resumed [JURIST report] diplomatic relations with Cuba. Also in 2015 Obama dropped Cuba [JURIST report] from the national terrorism list.