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Mexico deports 91 Cubans after U.S. ends 'wet foot, dry foot'

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Mexico's government has deported 91 Cubans about a week after the United States ended a so-called "wet foot, dry foot" policy that granted residency to almost every Cuban who reached U.S. soil, Mexican officials said on Friday.

The repeal of the longstanding policy last Thursday by former U.S. President Barack Obama left hundreds of Cubans who were seeking a new life stranded in Mexico and Central America countries.

The 71 men and 20 women were flown to the Caribbean island by Mexican federal police jet from the southern city of Tapachula, Mexico's National Migration Institute said.

The Cubans were in Mexico "irregularly," the institute said in a statement, though they had applied for a permit to remain temporarily in the country.

Cuban officials had long sought an end to the policy, arguing that the promise of U.S. residency was fuelling people-trafficking and encouraging dangerous journeys.

The policy let Cubans who fled to the United States pursue residency if they reached the mainland, but not if they were picked up at sea before reaching the shore.

Obama entered into detente in 2014 with Cuban President Raul Castro, and the two governments continued to sign cooperation agreements this week to wrap up a range of issues before Donald Trump was sworn in as U.S. president on Friday.

Trump has vowed to scrap Obama's policy toward Havana unless Castro's government makes further concessions, although he has not specified what those should be.

(Reporting by Gabriel Stargardter; Editing by Daniel Wallis)

 

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