Confusion Rises South of Border Amid News of Cuban Policy Repeal

4 years 10 months 2 weeks ago Tuesday, January 17 2017 Jan 17, 2017 January 17, 2017 6:10 PM January 17, 2017 in News

HIDALGO - Cuban nationals are arriving at U.S. ports of entries to find out they can no longer cross the border with ease.

President Obama’s announcement took many by surprise last week. Cuban nationals will no longer be protected under the “wet-foot, dry-foot” policy when entering the U.S.

CHANNEL 5 NEWS spoke to a U.S. permanent resident from Cuba about the change at the Hidalgo-Reynosa International Bridge.

“Yes, we heard the news. What Obama said on the TV and we are worried,” he said. “We want to know what’s going to happen with the Cubans who are arriving.”

He said he’s trying to get information on what will happen to family who left Cuba before the announcement. He said they have not arrived at the U.S.-Mexico border.

“What we hear is that they take down the Cuban Adjustment Act. That they are not going to let us in and they are not going to have the benefits that we have. We don’t anything else,” he said.

Katy Wheat, a pastor from Ohio, was volunteering at a migrant shelter in Reynosa over the weekend. She said there is even more chaos and confusion south of the bridge.

“There was a lot of confusion about what folks were going to do, especially since it was just two days after the policy ended,” she said.

Wheat said dozens of Cubans are stuck south of the border. She said they have no means of returning to their native country.

“Nobody knew what was going to happen. They hoped the Mexican government would be able to issue work papers or some sort of help to make these folks permanent residents in Mexico. But there are no answers whatsoever for these folks,” she said.

The man we spoke to at the Hidalgo bridge said he told his relative to stay put in Panama. There were about to start heading north to the U.S.-Mexico border when the announcement was made.

“We are afraid. If we have family members on the way, and they can’t make it what can we do?” he questioned. “I think the Cubans will still come. They prefer to wait for a judge for five years here than to stay in Cuba.”

He said he hopes the government goes back to helping Cubans claim asylum in the U.S. In the meantime, many will wait for answers in both sides of the border.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security said last week the changes to immigration policies regarding Cuban nationals were a part of the normalization between U.S.-Cuba relations initiated by the Obama administration in 2014. 

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