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Cayman Islands Government

Wet-Foot Dry-Foot Policy Ends

The Ministry of Home Affairs is aware of U.S. President Barack Obama’s decision to end the long standing “wet foot, dry foot” policy, and is taking steps to monitor the impact on illegal migration.

President Obama announced, on Thursday, 12 January 2017, an end to the 20-year-old policy that allowed most Cuban migrants who reached U.S. soil to stay and become legal permanent residents after one year. Those caught at sea were returned to Cuba.

Key agencies such as the Department of Immigration (DOI), the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service (RCIPS), Her Majesty’s Cayman Islands Prison Service (HMCIPS) and Hazard Management will continue to work collaboratively on the operational and strategic aspects of managing irregular migration, in addition to reviewing existing national plans.

Historically the Cayman Islands have been a popular transit point for Cuban nationals fleeing their country.

The Ministry expects that the shift in U.S. policy will lead to fewer migrants transiting the Cayman Islands in route to the United States via South and Central America. At the same time the end of this policy will not affect Cuban migrants currently living in the Cayman Islands.

"We welcome the policy change and are hopeful that as a result we will see fewer numbers of migrants arriving on our shores and that ultimately it will lead to a decrease in the loss of life at sea,” Acting Chief Officer for the Ministry of Home Affairs Kathryn Dinspel-Powell said.

Members of the multi-agency Mass Migration Management Committee have already set their quarterly meeting for this month, and will discuss the topic further.

Overall, the Cayman Islands Government will continue to manage the arrival of Cuban migrants in accordance with relevant local and international obligations.

For further information contact: Jamie Hicks