At least twice as a candidate, President-elect Donald Trump was asked about the wet foot, dry foot immigration policy toward Cubans that President Barack Obama ended Thursday.
Trump has yet to weigh in on the Obama repeal, though the White House told Cuban Americans on a call Thursday evening the Trump transition team had been briefed about the decision, according to a person on the call.
In February of last year, the Tampa Bay Times asked Trump if it was fair for Cubans who arrive in the U.S. to automatically get legal status, a path to citizenship and federal welfare benefits.
“I don’t think that’s fair. I mean why would that be a fair thing?” Trump responded. “I don’t think it would be fair. You know we have a system now for bringing people into the country, and what we should be doing is we should be bringing people who are terrific people who have terrific records of achievement, accomplishment.... You have people that have been in the system for years [waiting to immigrate to America], and it’s very unfair when people who just walk across the border, and you have other people that do it legally.”
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Pressed again in August, Trump deflected a question from the Miami Herald specifically about whether he would end wet foot, dry foot.
“Well, interestingly, I’m having a meeting on that in about a week with a lot of people from Cuba, originally from Cuba, and Cuban Americans,” he said. “And I’m going to be talking about that. I’m going to have a decision probably pretty quickly on that. But I want to get their feeling. I want to listen to what the people are saying. And I want to listen specifically to what Cuban people who came to this country, and who have lived in this country, Cuban Americans. I want to hear how they feel.”
Trump’s meeting with Cuban Americans in Miami didn’t take place until more than a month later -- and no policy specifics were discussed.