How 'Wet Foot, Dry Foot' Policy Change Impacts Cuban Migrants | NBC 6 South Florida

Reestablishing connections with the island nation and its people

How 'Wet Foot, Dry Foot' Policy Change Impacts Cuban Migrants

An immigration attorney says refugees will have to seek asylum to remain or be subject to expedited removal

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    NBC 6's Willard Shepard reports on how the Coast Guard will adjust to the end of the 'wet foot, dry foot' policy. (Published Friday, Jan. 13, 2017)

    For years, the U.S. Coast Guard station on Miami Beach has launched hundreds of missions when the call came that Cuban migrants were at sea.

    But after the Obama administration ended the "wet foot, dry foot" policy that granted those migrants amnesty when they touched land, the Coast Guard, U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents and Immigration agents are playing a whole new ball game when it comes to Cuban migration.

    Now, Cubans who now illegally make it to South Florida's shores will be transported to the Krome Detention Center in Southwest Dade or other holding facilities like it.

    Immigration attorney Mayra Jolie, Esq. says the refugees will have to seek asylum to remain or be subject to expedited removal.

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    "They cannot be released just into the community," Jolie said.

    To successfully gain asylum, Cubans will have to show a reasonable fear of persecution if they were returned. It's based on race, religion, national origin, political opinion or membership in a social group.

    Jolie says it's a tall order.

    "It's very difficult to win it. It's not a matter of just having the country conditions and showing there are still violations of human rights in Cuba, you have to show that those violations apply directly to you and the government is persecuting you on one of the protected grounds," she explained.

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    For the military and federal agents, there's no change for the procedures they follow everyday, just that those procedures now apply to Cubans, too.

    Jolie said the standard paths to U.S. citizenship are still available to Cubans, such as American citizens bringing their minor children from Cuba, business visas and falling in love and getting married.

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