Thousands of Cuban refugees are stranded in Costa Rica and are now being moved into Mexico so they can illegally cross into the United States. Once on American soil, Cubans receive automatic immigration status adjustment and full welfare benefits. Texas is becoming the epicenter of this influx of Cubans.
Since President Barack Obama established diplomatic relations with Cuba last year, thousands of Cubans have been speeding up their planned departure to the United States fearing an end to the Cuban Adjustment Act that gives them special status.
Thousands of Cubans who began their journey to America by flying to Ecuador and then moving northward are now stranded in Costa Rica, Breitbart Texas’ Lana Shadwick reported. They are stranded because Nicaragua closed its border with Costa Rica and refused passage to the Cuban refugees.
Earlier this week, Breitbart Texas reported that more than one hundred Cubans were being flown from Costa Rica to northern Mexico where they can then cross the border into Texas. Fox News Latino reported a second flight that day also headed to the border town of Nuevo Laredo, Mexico. A total of 236 immigrants were transported to this Mexican town and were expected to quickly cross into the United States.
LA Times reporter Molly Hennessy-Fisk traveled to the neighboring U.S. border town of Laredo, Texas, to observe the crossings. “Scores of Cubans crossed the border bridge here from Mexico on a recent week day, pregnant women in fluorescent rhinestone-studded T-shirts, men in tight jeans towing suitcases – all in search of Alejandro Ruiz,” she wrote.
Ruiz, a Cuban immigrant, now U.S. citizen, lives in Laredo and operates a body shop. The refugees are seeking him out, not for car repairs, but because he also now operates a shelter for the new Cuban refugees. Ruiz advertises his non-profit shelter, Cubanso en Libertad, on Facebook so the Cubans will know where to find him.
He established the non-profit to provide shelter, transportation and other assistance to the Cubans as a way of repaying the help he received when he travelled from Cuba to New Jersey in 1992, Hennessy-Fisk reported. “I only help the people who don’t have money. I have a little house, and I help them get documents,” Ruiz told the LA Times reporter.
On the Cuban Adjustment Act of 1966, the LA Times reported:
Thanks to the Cuban Adjustment Act of 1966, Cubans who arrive in America are granted permission to stay legally. Unlike the tens of thousands of Central Americans who have poured into south Texas in recent years, the immigrants from Cuba are also eligible for federal welfare benefits and permanent residency, a path to citizenship.
But as relations between the U.S. and Cuba began to normalize in 2014, thousands fled toward America, afraid their window of opportunity would close.
Most of the Cuban migrants fly to Ecuador, then travel north through Central America and Mexico to this Texas border town. It’s a longer trip than the traditional overseas route to Florida but considered a better bet.
Ruiz told Hennessy-Fisk that around 600 Cubans arrived in the last week. Approximately 8,000 are still stranded in Costa Rica awaiting flights out of the country.
Because of delays getting out of Costa Rica, many are turning to coyotes and the dangerous drug cartels to expedite their travel plans. One refugee told Ruiz he paid $650 to get him to Honduras. Another said he paid $300 to reach southern Mexico.
Travel via the cartel coyote networks is dangerous at best. “There were some others who got kidnapped, robbed,” said 15-year-old Sulen Marrero. “They just want money. If you don’t give it, they kill you,” she said.
One woman who is six-months pregnant and has not seen a doctor during her pregnancy reported that forty other pregnant women were on the flight she took from Costa Rica this week.
In a one-month period ending December 18, Fox News Latino reported that Costa Rica issues 7,802 temporary visas to Cubans. They have since shut down the temporary program due to lack of resources to take care of the people. Nicaragua closed its borders to the refugees claiming they posed a risk to that country’s national security.
Costa Rica threatened its refugees this week, saying if they did not take advantage of the flights to Mexico, they would revoke the temporary visas and deport the Cubans.
Bob Price is a senior political news contributor for Breitbart Texas and a member of the original Breitbart Texas team. Follow him on Twitter @BobPriceBBTX.