With the announcement of the reversal of the 'wet foot, dry foot' policy, also comes the elimination of the Cuban Medical Professional Parole Program.
The policy allowed certain Cuban medical personnel in third countries to apply for parole. Medical professionals applying to the program were required to show they were studying or working in a third country under the direction of the Cuban government.
Their immediate family members were also potentially eligible for parole. That has all changed.
Republican congressional leaders criticized President Obama on the removal of the parole program. Florida Senator Marco Rubio released a statement Thursday opposing the move. "I am concerned by the decision to terminate the Cuban Medical Professional Parole Program. For decades, the Castro regime has forced thousands of doctors to go abroad as a tool of its foreign policy," said Sen. Rubio.
U.s. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen also released a statement saying, "The repeal of the Cuban Medical Professional Parole Program was done because that's what the Cuban dictatorship wanted and the White House caved to what Castro want."
Congressman Mario Diaz-Balart added to the slamming of the policy change. "The Cuban Medical Professional Parole Program provided a way for doctors forced to work under inhumane conditions for paltry salaries in foreign lands to escape their servitude," Diaz-Balart said in a statement.
Despite the major changes, the U.S. will continue the Cuban Family Reunification Parole Program. The policy allows beneficiaries of certain approved family-sponsored immigrant visa petitions to travel to the United States before their immigrant visas become available, rather than remain in Cuba to await a visa.