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Political Dissidence Becomes Economic Dissidence

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On January 12, 2017, President Obama finished off his presidency with a bang. He signed an executive order that ended the 20-year- old “wet foot, dry foot” policy. The former president issued a statement on Thursday saying, “”Effective immediately, Cuban nationals who attempt to enter the United States illegally and do not qualify for humanitarian relief will be subject to removal, consistent with U.S. law and enforcement priorities. By taking this step, we are treating Cuban migrants the same way we treat migrants from other countries.”

Instituted by president Bill Clinton in 1995, this policy allowed Cubans who simply touched U.S soil to stay and become permanent residents, and Cuban immigrants who got caught outside of U.S soil would be returned to Cuba. In exchange for this policy, Cuba agreed to accept Cubans who were deported from the United States. However, all of that has passed down into history, for as of one week before Trump took power, American policy towards Cuban immigrants would be the same for immigrants from all nationalities entering the U.S.

No foreshadowing or plan to repeal this policy had ever existed before, until all of a sudden, Obama just did it. In a matter of minutes, the 44th president had signed an order that destroyed the plans of millions of Cubans, and tore thousands of families apart.

The impact of Obama’s executive order would reverberate throughout Cuba and South, Central, and North America. It was already bad enough to the Cubans in America or in Cuba, but even more so for those braving the perilous path to freedom. I can only imagine what it must feel like to be so close to a new life after dreaming so long and to have it all just collapse and die as you receive the terrible news.

Many such people had sold and given up everything to reach America. Now, they will have nothing to go back to but a life of extreme poverty and disappointment. Those back home in Cuba or in the U.S had left behind their families and were eagerly awaiting the arrival of their family who they haven’t seen in months. Now, instead of months, it will be years before they see each other again, and I speak from experience, for one of my family members had to go through this.

Like my family member, the whole Cuban community’s reaction to this has been one of disbelief, disgust, and disillusionment. The only hope for the Cuban community is that president Donald Trump revokes Obama’s executive order and reinstates the “dry foot, wet foot” policy. However, its highly unlikely that he will do so. First, Trump is against illegal immigration, and to reinstate this policy strictly for Cuban immigrants would contradict everything he has said and based his election campaign on. Finally, the 45th president already has his own agenda and priorities set such as repealing and replacing Obamacare.

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Political Dissidence Becomes Economic Dissidence