World Bulletin / News Desk
The U.S. has changed a decades-long policy that allows Cubans who arrive on its shores illegally to stay as legal residents, according to a White House statement issued late Thursday.
The so-called "wet foot, dry foot" policy was a major source of contention between Washington and Havana but the surprise move by the Obama administration could accelerate efforts to normalize bilateral ties between the two nations.
"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," according to the statement that said the policy change was an important step forward.
"By taking this step, we are treating Cuban migrants the same way we treat migrants from other countries," it added.
The policy was put in place more than two decades ago during the Cold War, when relations between Cuba and the U.S. reached a nadir.
The thaw began in late 2014 and culminated when outgoing President Barack Obama became the first U.S. head of state to visit Cuba since 1928.
Last August witnessed the first Cuba-bound U.S. commercial flight in more than 50 years. Obama announced a loosening of sanctions in October and later that month the U.S. took the unprecedented step of abstaining from an annual, symbolic UN vote condemning an international blockade against Cuba.
Americans had voted against it every year for a quarter of a century.
Following Cuba’s iconic leader Fidel Castro’s death in November, President-elect Donald Trump threatened to undermine the normalization process if Havana does not take steps to reform, describing the controversial leader as a "brutal dictator who oppressed his own people".Güncelleme Tarihi: 13 Ocak 2017, 08:26