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Trump Considers Reversing Obama Policies on Cuba

by Andrea Mitchell /
Taxi drivers chat around their vintage American cars in Havana, Cuba on September 16, 2015.Carl Court / Getty Images file

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WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump is considering rolling back Barack Obama's executive orders that liberalized trade and travel with Cuba — but the president is unlikely to break diplomatic relations or close the U.S. embassy in Havana, multiple sources told NBC News.

However, there is strong Republican support in the Senate for continuing the Obama policies — 54 senators support lifting the U.S. trade embargo entirely. But Florida Senator Marco Rubio, a hardliner on Cuba, is heavily involved in pushing Trump to eliminate or weaken Obama's changes.

The Obama administration began to re-establish relations with Cuba in December 2014 and the changes to U.S. policy continued almost up until his last week in office when he ended a policy, dubbed "wet foot, dry foot," which gave Cubans arriving illegally into the U.S. residency — as long as they reached land — unlike others arriving without visas.

The president made a historic visit to the island nation last year — the first American president to do so since Calvin Coolidge nearly 90 years ago.

 President Barack Obama listens as Cuban President Raul Castro speaks during their news conference at the Palace of the Revolution on March 21, in Havana, Cuba. Pablo Martinez Monsivais / AP file

The changes being weighed by the Trump administration could include reimposing limits on banking, people-to-people exchanges, the purchase by Americans of Cuban cigars and rum, and other measures.

The revisions sought by Trump would be included in an executive order citing human rights abuses on the island that Trump would announce in Miami. Trump carried the state of Florida last year in his race against Hillary Clinton, a key part of his electoral map win.

But push back is coming from the push back is coming from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and from states that export agricultural products to Cuba, as well as from U.S. intelligence agencies that have benefited from improved intelligence sharing.

Related: Travelers Push For Trips to Cuba in Case Trump Dumps Deal

The White House has not made a final decision on whether to roll back Obama's executive orders on trade and travel with Cuba, the sources told NBC News.

It is also not known if the White House is looking at any changes to Obama's ending of the "wet foot, dry foot" policy.

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