My Last Barack Obama Column
President Barack Obama was wrong to end the “wet foot, dry foot” policy for Cuban immigrants. Democrats, Republicans, and a majority of Cuban Americans — including Sen. Marco Rubio — were in favor of ending the policy because of the belief that recent Cuban arrivals have been abusing the government benefits given to them as soon as they step on U.S. soil. And Obama effectively put the human traffickers who charge Cubans to help them escape to Miami out of business.
Yet for every Cuban that takes advantage of the system, there are those like Jose Fernandez, the young Miami Marlins pitcher who died tragically last year in a boating accident. Fernandez and his mother risked their lives to make the perilous journey across the Florida Straits. Thousands of Cubans have done the same for a chance at freedom. Some will argue that Obama’s decision puts Cuban on same playing field as Haitians, who have been the targets of ramped up deportations since September.
But this is the country that preaches, “give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.” Obama himself loves to brag that America is a nation of immigrants. If you are getting into a rickety raft with the real possibility of dying at sea, you are not coming to the U.S. to qualify for welfare and then go back to Cuba. It’s only a small percentage who are scammers.
Cubans escaping their communist nation is no different from the slaves who escaped their masters through Harriet Tubman’s underground railroad. As a Miami native, watching TV news reports of Cubans making it to shore was a marvelous part of life here. When I was a teenager attending Miami Beach Senior High, I remember going to school with Cuban kids who faced the same type of discrimination I experienced. I have friends who came over on the Mariel boatlift with their families and who had to stay in processing center near the Orange Bowl.
Now Obama is making Donald Trump’s job easier when he should be making it harder for the anti-immigrant president-elect to undo policies that protect people from other countries looking to escape dire situations. Instead of ending “wet foot, dry foot” for Cubans, Obama should have expanded it to include Haitians and other immigrants who make it into this country
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