Legal Consequences on Cuban Immigrants After the End of “Wet Foot, Dry Foot”

On January 12, 2017, President Barack Obama ended the United States longstanding policy “wet foot, dry foot” regarding Cuban citizens. “Wet foot, dry foot” was a policy that resulted from a 1995 revision to the Cuban Adjustment Act that allowed for Cuban citizens to obtain legal permanent resident status after a year despite an illegal entry. The term “wet foot, dry foot” refers to the policy that, as long as a Cuban national got one “dry foot” onto U.S. soil, he or she would be eligible under the Cuban Adjustment Act.

Under the Cuban Adjustment Act, any Cuban citizen that has resided in the United States for a minimum of one year is eligible to adjust their status to a legal permanent resident. In addition, applicants under the Cuban Adjustment Act are not subject to denial for 1) illegal entry or 2) being a public charge like other immigrants.

Is the Cuban Adjustment Act still law?

Yes, the Cuban Adjustment Act is a law passed by Congress and the President does not have legal authority to unilaterally repeal it. Congress is the only branch of the government that has the ability to repeal the law.

If I have already been granted my green card under the Cuban Adjustment Act, will I be deported?

No, as long as you are not deportable for another reason, President Obama’s announcement of the end of “wet foot, dry foot” will not effect your green card status retroactively.

What will the effect of ending “wet foot, dry foot” be on Cuban citizens that enter the United States in the future?

Cuban citizens that enter illegally will no longer be protected by the “wet foot, dry foot” policy. They will be inadmissible and immediately subject to deportation.

In addition, the end of “wet foot, dry foot” will also result in the end of Cuba’s longstanding policy of refusing to accept deportable Cuban citizens from the United States. Thousands of Cuban citizens have avoided orders of deportation from the United States for over a decade. Now, that will change.

However, the Cuban Adjustment Act, at least for the time being, is still good law. Therefore, Cuban citizens can still be eligible to adjust status to a legal permanent resident after one year.

Contact Hubbs Law today for a free immigration consultation.


Please note that by reading this blog you are not entering into an attorney-client relationship with Hubbs Law, P.A. This blog only provides general legal information. Every case is unique and you should request a consultation to ensure that you are getting the correct legal advice for your specific case.

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