U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio confirmed Monday that he won't try to bring back the special immigration status for Cubans that President Barack Obama eliminated last week in a surprise move.
"Wet foot/dry foot -- and the Cuban Adjustment Act in general -- was in danger," Rubio told reporters in Miami. Obama's reestablishing of diplomatic relations with Cuba undermined "the very essence and the purpose of the law, its justification."
"There's been well-documented abuses of the program," added the Florida Republican, who had filed legislation to tighten federal benefits for recent Cuban arrivals. "In my view, the Cuban Adjustment Act was going to be changed one way or another."
He even predicted there would be enough votes in Congress to repeal the law altogether.
The Cuban Adjustment Act still stands, but Obama's actions Thursday effectively gutted it, making it much more difficult for Cubans to remain legally in the U.S. and qualify under the act's protections.
While he won't ask President-elect Donald Trump to bring back the wet-foot/dry-foot policy, Rubio reiterated he'll push to reinstate the Cuban Medical Professional Parole Program that gave refuse to Cuban medical professionals forced to work abroad who defected to the U.S. In a statement Thursday, Rubio said he spoke to Vice President-elect Mike Pence about the issue.
Now that Cubans who arrive undocumented in the U.S. must request political asylum to try to remain in the country, Rubio said he hoped their asylum claims would be given a full hearing.
"I don't want to see stories about people who came that way," with legitimate claims of oppression, he added, "and were sent back to Cuba."