With about a week left in his presidency, Barack Obama has suddenly ended the so-called wet foot-dry foot policy for Cuban refugees. Henceforth, at least until Donald Trump reverses the order soon, Cubans seeking to flee tyranny in the island nation will be subject to deportation. The new policy is seen as part of the president’s effort to restore normal relations with the Castro government. Of course, the United States government will still consider asylum requests as it does with emigres from other countries.

The reaction of some Cuban-American politicians is not as one might expect.

The old policy has been seen as encouraging an exodus from Cuba, often dangerous as it involves crossing the sea across 90 miles. The idea is that the new system will force the Castro government to enact economic and political reforms by, in effect, turning off a relief valve that has changed the demographics of southern Florida over the past 50 years.

On the other hand, depending on how asylum requests are handled, the new policy might be seen as unusually cruel, deporting refugees back to a country whose government will likely savagely punish them for trying to leave. The government of Raul Castro has shown no signs of easing repressing government policies. In fact, in the wake of Obama’s opening to Cuba, the government has stepped up repression, filling its jails with dissidents and other people suspected of being less than loyal to the regime.

Obama is said to have undertaken the new policy as he is on his way out as a way to box Donald Trump in. The idea is that Trump is an immigration hawk, so he might hesitate to reverse the policy back to what it was. Why treat Cubans different from – say – Syrians.

On the other hand, Cuban refugees are not known to contain terrorists among their numbers.

Trump has already slammed the opening to Cuba as ineffective and has hinted that he would deal with Havana more harshly than is Obama. He could point out that the situation in the Middle East and Cuba are two different things.

In any case, Obama has extended a middle finger to the Cuban-American community, a significant voting bloc.

No good will likely come of it.

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