Bahamas welcomes US decision to end open door policy for Cuban migrants

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NASSAU, Bahamas, Jan 13, CMC – The Bahamas government says it welcomes the decision of the outgoing Obama administration in the United States to end a five-decade-old open door policy for Cuba migrants who were allowed entry into the North American country under the so-called  “wet foot / dry foot” immigration policy.
Foreign Affairs and Immigration  Minister Fred Mitchell said that the perry Christie government had always been of the view that the policy” was …driving the rise in (illegal) Cuban landings in the Bahamas”.
President Obama, who is due to demit office on January 20, announced Thursday that he was scrapping  rules dating back to the 1960s, which allowed those fleeing communist Cuba a fast track to US citizenship.
In a statement, Obama said the move would “bring greater consistency to our immigration policy.
“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 US law and enforcement priorities,” Obama said.
The Cold War-era policy had a wide-ranging impact, transforming both Cuba and the United States.
It enticed millions to flee the island, fuelling economic stasis and a severe “brain drain.”
Mitchell said that Nassau had been informed of the US decision by its embassy here  and the effect of the policy is that Cuban nationals will now be treated like any other foreign nationals landing in the United States illegally.
“They will be returned following the appropriate screening to determine whether they qualify for refugee status. The Bahamas government welcomes this decision, particularly as it is believed that this policy was believed to be driving the rise in Cuban landings in The Bahamas.”
Mitchell said that the Bahamas repatriated 187 Cuban nationals in 2014 and with the US rapprochement of Cuba at the end of 2014, “the Bahamas repatriated 196 Cubans in 2015; and numbers continually spiked from June 2016 ending the year with 1,179 repatriations. Up to 12th January 2017, 114 Cubans have been repatriated”.
Mitchell said that the government here “is mindful however that the decision is taken just as the political administration in the United States is about to change.
“The Government waits to see whether the policy will continue beyond the current administration before the Government can determine what the policy’s full effects are,” he said.

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