On Thursday, January 12, 2017, President Obama announced the end of the “wet-foot/dry-foot” policy pertaining to Cuban nationals. Oversimplified, the “wet-foot/dry-foot” policy meant that Cubans just needed to get a foot on U.S, soil to eventually obtain permanent residence. Once on land, they could either receive parole from a border officer or apply for parole at a local U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services field office. There was never a need to prove anything besides their Cuban nationality, residence in the U.S. for one year and one day, and a lack of criminal issues that would bar issuance of a green card under the Cuban Adjustment Act (CAA).
Although the end of the “wet foot/dry foot” policy ends the automatic parole of Cubans even if they get that foot on U.S. soil, Cubans can still apply for asylum and humanitarian protection; with many Cubans still qualifying for lawful permanent residency under the CAA, which is still current and valid law, requiring the strenuous hurdle of Congressional action to repeal. Therefore, although the CAA has become less accessible because now Cuban immigrants must be inspected and admitted or paroled, it is still an option to those who present a credible asylum claim.