Panama flies Cuban immigrants to US border

A deal with Panama will see thousands of Cuban immigrants flown to the border between the United States and Mexico. The first group of Cuban immigrants, which totaled 238 individuals, arrived in the border city of Juarez on Monday courtesy of two Panama flights, according to a statement issued by the Mexico Foreign Ministry.

The agreement gives Panama the right to send as many as 3995 Cuban immigrants headed for the United States to Mexico, where “humanitarian” reasons afforded by “extraordinary circumstances” has swayed the Mexican government into allowing them to remain for no more than 20 days. The Cubans have been left stranded in Central America after they were prevented from traveling north by a number of countries closing their borders.

Immigration to the United States has skyrocketed among Cubans since relations between the two nations began to thaw, sparking fears that the favorable immigration policy that the US has toward the island nation may be about to change. US law has allowed any Cubans who set foot on American soil to live and work there legally since the 1960s, giving them a major advantage over other immigrants.

The Mexico Foreign Ministry has described the agreement as being a “temporary measure” to alleviate the situation while both nations are now also putting in place a number of steps to try to stop any new flows of immigrants and put people off from trying. On Monday, Panama announced that it is temporarily closing the country’s border with Colombia.