As many people in South Florida know, U.S. immigration law has a unique policy when it comes to immigration from Cuba. Known as the “wet-foot dry-foot” policy, it essentially allows Cubans to enter the United States if they can reach the country’s border. Those found at sea before reaching Florida or other landing site, however, are turned back.
This policy was based largely on political tensions between the two countries over the past 50-some years. Now that the Obama administration has announced a re-establishment of diplomatic relations with Cuba, some lawmakers are calling for changes in immigration law related to Cuba.
Once in the country, a Cuban immigrant automatically receives permanent residency after being in the U.S. for a year and a day. He or she then becomes a U.S. citizen after living in the country for five years. Some say that this law, passed in 1966, was intended to help people fleeing political oppression, but that many recent migrants from Cuba are coming for economic reasons.
It appears that many Cubans are taking a possible change in the law seriously. UPI reports that more Cuban migrants entered the U.S. last year than any year in a decade. These days, most émigrés from Cuba arrive in the U.S. through Mexico, to avoid the risk of being caught at sea.
Immigration in general remains a big topic in Washington. The law is always changing, and determining your right to live and work in the United States. Someone seeking permanent residency or citizenship, or is concerned about their status, should consult with an immigration attorney.