Updated 12:33 AM EDT, Mon, Jun 21, 2021

Mexico Extends Helping Hand to Stranded Cubans in Costa Rica

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Though the Mexican government's decision to grant temporary shelter to Cuban migrants in Costa Rica is a noble act, some sectors believe that the move has created first and second class migrants.

Activists said Mexico's new immigration policy only widened the disparity between Cuban immigrants and Central American migrants currently living in the United States, per IPS. The former are now being given humanitarian privileges, while the latter are plucked from their homes and eventually deported.

"They have double standards, and Mexico plays into their interests. It contradicts the goal of achieving orderly, safe migration flows," said Guatemalan activist Danilo Rivera. "Mexico isn't coherent, because it's a country that produces migrants itself."

Two weeks ago, Mexico started granting transit visas to Cuban migrants in Guatemala who were flown in from Costa Rica.

Reuters pointed out that a total of 120 Cubans were put in buses en route to Mexico. Authorities in Central America are currently holding meetings to decide how the trips will be paid for as well as if the transit programs will be continued or not.

Before the current immigration issue broke out, Cubans hoping to reach the United States did so by traveling to Ecuador, where then could board boat rides going to California. The trip crossed Costa Rican shoreline and surely enough, over 8,000 Cubans were caught along the border of Nicaragua and Costa Rica in November 2015.

Nicaragua refused to give sanctuary to the stranded Cuban migrants, which was why an agreement between Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala and Mexico was formed. Cuban migrants were flown from Costa Rica directly to Guatemala, where they were put on bus rides to the neighboring country of Mexico.

Just this week, the Costa Rican government announced that the second batch of Cuban migrants will be flown to Guatemala this Feb. 4. ABC News reported that the second airlift will carry 184 Cubans. Costa Rican authorities will be constantly monitoring the group of Cubans, and will inform them of what important documents to bring.

The common goal of the Cuban migrants is to land on US soil and have a chance to apply for permanent US citizenship. A longstanding US decree, known as the 1966 Cuban Adjustment Act, makes this possible. The law is colloquially referred to as the "wet foot-dry foot policy."

According to The Washington Post, the 1966 Cuban Adjustment Act provides political and social relief to Cubans who wish to escape the country's authoritarian rule. It also grants migrants the pathway to US citizenship, regardless if they were brought in legally or illegally.

The law does have a caveat for Cubans migrants wishing to exploit it. Those who are caught at sea will be deported, while those who managed to land in the US, and have lived quietly in the country for one year and one day, will be allowed to stay.

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