7,800 Cuban immigrants are currently mired in Costa Rica; however, as many as 2,400 of these could be attempting to find their own way to illegally enter the United States, a new AFP report alleges. The news follows a decision by leaders in Costa Rica to attempt to expand a pilot scheme to ship the immigrants to the US safely and legally.
Costa Rican ally Nicaragua blocked its borders with the country after the surge in Cuban immigrants began in the middle of last year. 5,000 of the immigrants currently stranded in Costa Rica have registered with migrant shelters, knowing that they will be rewarded with work permits and legal residency if they can make it to the United States. This is due to the special immigration policy for Cubans created in the 60s; however, Coast Guard and US immigration agents can turn them away, and they cannot fly into the country.
In January around 180 immigrants were moved to the Mexican border by Costa Ricans charging $550 for bus tickets and flights to travel through Guatemala and El Salvador. Last week a number of tweets were posted by Luis Guillermo Solis, the president of Costa Rica, in which he indicated that the immigrants could soon be moved a lot faster.
“The Pilot Plan for the transit of Cuban migrants has been successful, according to various presidents in the region,” said one tweet, with another saying: “In the coming days, with these negotiations, the increase in the frequency of these flights will be known.”