San José, Costa Rica, since 1956
Costa Rica

Cuban migrants storm Costa Rica-Panama border demanding to pass

More than 1,000 mostly Cuban migrants blocked traffic and forcibly crossed the border into Costa Rica Wednesday morning, demanding that Costa Rica and Nicaragua let them pass through on their way to the United States, Security Minister Gustavo Mata said during a news conference. Most of the migrants returned to Panama voluntarily, although Mata said police escorted some back.

President Luis Guillermo Solís, Security Minister Gustavo Mata, Foreign Minister Manual González and Immigration Administration Director Kattia Rodríguez met at Casa Presidencial for an emergency meeting on the topic Wednesday.

Costa Rican media outlet Colosal posted a video to Facebook from the scene at Paso Canoas showing a large crowd yelling and, at one point, surrounding a car with a cracked windshield. Several police officers are present.

One man showed his bloodied arm to the camera, but it was not clear what caused the injury. Others in the video accused police of beating them.

Mata said that an additional 150 police officers would be dispatched to reinforce the country’s southern border with Panama. The officers will stay as long as needed, Mata said. Officials from the Child Welfare Office, National Institute for Women and the Mixed Institute for Social Aid will also be at the border.

The border protest took place a day after regional leaders gathered in San José to address persistent problems on the immigration front, including the continued arrival of Cubans and migrants from Africa and Asia.

Costa Rican Foreign Minister Manuel González read an official statement Wednesday afternoon reaffirming that Costa Rica would not grant any more temporary transit visas to Cuban migrants without permission to enter the country. González repeated the government’s position that the U.S. Cuban Adjustment Act, which allows Cubans who reach the U.S. to access federal benefit and apply for residency after one year, was a “perverse incentive” that encourages human smuggling and other organized crime.

González said a hot-potato approach to Cuban and other migrants was not a lasting solution to this latest wave of illegal immigration in Central America. Despite the fact that the meeting in San José Tuesday did not produce a solution, he said that Costa Rica would remain open to continued dialogue with its neighbors to find one.

González said Costa Rica would issue a letter to U.S. President Barack Obama as early as Wednesday expressing the government’s disproval with current U.S. policy on Cuban migrants. The foreign minister said the letter would ask Obama to take executive action to limit the so-called “wet foot, dry foot” policy. He said that Costa Rica’s ambassador to the U.S. would continue to meet with members of the U.S. Congress to explain Costa Rica’s concern with current policy.

The Panamanian newspaper La Estrella reported that there are some 2,000 Cuban migrants trying to reach the United States living in four shelters in Chiriquí, Panama. Costa Rica stopped receiving Cuban migrants in December 2015.

In March, President Solís declared the successful conclusion of Costa Rica’s humanitarian mission in which the country cared for more than 7,800 migrants and helped them on their way to the U.S.-Mexico border.

This is a developing story.  

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As we know the USA gave Costa Rica over 1 million dollars plus air fare too thousands of the Cubans. Some where flown directly to Miami others to the border town of Laredo. It seems there will be no end insight ever to this illegal alien invasion. Also the border agents on both sides have been making money under the table for years allowing the Cubans and others to pass though. However, the government turned their attentions saying it is USA bad policy when their own government profiting as well. Costa Rica right in asking for the Cuban refugee policy to end and NOW! thus making it less attractive coming to the USA. However, even with the change in policy I do not think this would ever stop.

You can also google the March article in the NY Times as confirmation. Now what will the USA do?? Oh of course pay Panama for housing them and next fly them to the USA.. The Ecuador trail head will continue to to supply from all countries.

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Ken Morris

I’m sorry for Costa Rica’s problems with the Cuban immigrants and support the government’s current policy, but I’m afraid that I have to point at that when Nicaragua took the SAME position months ago, the Ticos fell all over themselves condemning the callousness and cruelty of Nicaragua.

And even now, the media are reporting Costa Rica’s efforts to defend its borders very differently than it reported Nicaragua’s efforts. When Nicaragua defended its border, naturally it used its military, and was roundly critcized for that. But when Costa Rica, with no military, defends its border, it uses the politer sounding police, and there isn’t a hint of criticism.

My question is that if 1000 Cubans “forcibly crossed the border into Costa Rica” and were stopped by the Costa Rican police, how exactly did the police stop them, by offering them candy to turn back? And why are 150 more police being sent to the border, to play soccer with the Cubans?

It sure looks like Costa Rica is stopping the Cubans by force and the threat of force, which is exactly what Nicaragua did. I don’t disapprove of either country’s actions, just disapprove of the different spin put on them depending upon which country takes those same actions.

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Ken. I like your sarcasm in how Costa Rica is two faced concerning this problem. Now the Africans at the border are showing their babies and how unfair this is. USA sure has become the honey pot. Notice as well when Trump says build a wall how CR and others here say how dare the USA close it’s border to illegal aliens.

Illegal aliens coming how many are criminals? How many do not have the required vaccine to stop spreading small pox, whooping cough, mumps and HIV? When I brought my wife to the USA I had to pay a lot of fees costing thousands, she had to have a health record cleared, and I had to show I could support her and health insurance. Not to mention terrorist.

Trump or whoever build a wall. Have legal way for immigrants to enter and end the Cuban refugee status. Notice Costa Rica does not want them here as well pass them though for a bribe..

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Carlitos Rojas

Special treatment for Cuban immigrants should end, Texas congressmen declare in new bill
WASHINGTON — Following on President Barack Obama’s historic trip to Cuba, a bipartisan pair of Texas congressmen introduced legislation Wednesday to repeal special immigration policies for Cubans coming to the U.S.

Reps. Blake Farenthold, R-Corpus Christi, and Henry Cuellar, D-Laredo, say Obama’s resumption of diplomatic relations with the Communist nation signals that the Cuban Adjustment Act of 1966 is no longer needed. Their measure would effectively undo laws that provide asylum, federal benefits and a fast track to citizenship for Cubans arriving in America.
The proposal — known as the Correcting Unfair Benefits for Aliens, or CUBA Act — comes a day after Obama and numerous American business and elected officials wrapped up a trip to Cuba, a visit intended to deepen America’s relationship with the country after more than five decades of estrangement. It’s the latest of several bills under consideration in the House related to Cuban trade and immigration policies.
“We must look at how we regularize the immigration process and if it gets regularized, then some of the methods by which Cubans are coming to the United States should be reviewed,” she said, not referring specifically to the legislation proposed by Farenthold and Cuellar.

Farenthold pointed to an influx of Cuban migrants reaching Texas through the Mexico border as a driving force for the proposal.

“We should hold all immigrants to the same standards in order to ensure the safety and vitality of our communities,” he said in a statement.

The Pew Research Center reports a 78 percent increase in Cubanswho entered the country in fiscal year 2015 over the previous year. The surge is largely attributed to fear among Cubans that the “wet foot/dry foot” policy — which essentially expedites citizenship for Cubans able to reach American soil —  would end with the renewed diplomacy.  
About two-thirds of those who came to the U.S. in 2015, about 28,300, entered through the U.S. Border Patrol in Laredo, according to Pew.

While it will take an act of Congress to officially lift the embargo, Obama has loosened myriad restrictions on travel and trade and reopened the American Embassy in Havana.

The bill, which is not yet assigned to a committee, faces a tough path in Congress. Lawmakers are divided, even within the parties, over Cuban immigration and trade policies. Similar measures have languished in the House.

Johnson touched on the emotional undercurrents fueling much of the division over how the U.S. approaches Cuban trade and immigration policies.

“Put yourself in a position of those families that felt their worldly goods were taken from them. You cannot miss what a hurting experience it was,” she said, referring to the seizure of private property following Fidel Castro’s rise to power.

Florida politicians have fiercely fought to protect the special status given to Cuban immigrants, transforming U.S. government assistance from handouts of powdered milk and cheese to a multibillion dollar entitlement.

Aid to Cuban immigrants — who are granted immediate access to welfare, food stamps and Medicaid — has ballooned from a $1 million federal allocation in 1960 to at least $680 million a year today.

How did Cubans become the only nationality with unfettered access to U.S. government benefits? A combination of compassion, panic and politics.

Cubans “are eligible for all welfare on the same basis as U.S. citizens, as soon as they hit the shore — all welfare,” said Don Barnett of the Center for Immigration Studies, a Washington-based nonpartisan research group.

Neither Congress nor the Obama administration is publicly discussing whether the aid is still warranted, even as the two countries reconcile.

The intent of the money was to help Cuban refugees flee communist oppression and settle here. But that privileged status now seems unjustifiable as Cubans trek back and forth to Havana to visit, said one of the original architects of the entitlement, former U.S. Sen. Richard Stone of Florida.
Stone, now 87 and living in Maryland, recently told the Sun Sentinel that he supported giving aid to any Cuban who had “the gumption to risk his life to get to America.” But he said welfare was not meant for Cubans to return to the island. “It proves there is not [persecution], if you can go back and forth.”

The travel raises questions about the extraordinary assistance Cubans receive, he said. “I definitely think it needs to be thoroughly investigated.

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