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Mexico Deports 91 Cubans After US Ends Residency Policy


Members of the gendarmerie stand at the back door of a federal police airplane bound for La Havana, Cuba, as Cuban citizens are being deported from Mexico, at the international airport in Tapachula, Mexico, Jan. 20, 2017.

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

The repeal of the long-standing 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 American 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 fueling human 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.

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