Close to 4,000 Cuban migrants are currently being sent from Panama to Mexico where they will then attempt to get into the U.S.
The Cubans have been stuck in Panama for months, but can finally leave the country after Panamanian and Mexican politicians reached a deal letting them proceed north. There are now daily flights out of the Panama City Airport to Juarez, Mexico.
Migrants will have to pay for their own flights to leave Panama and head to Juarez — which is close to the U.S. border and El Paso, Texas. The hold up in the migrants’ travel was caused by Costa Rica refusing to let the people migrate north through the country.
Pope Francis condemned the living situation of the migrants in 2015, when they were still stuck in Panama. The pope celebrated Mass in Juarez during his February visit to Mexico — the Mexican city was so close to El Paso, residents flocked to the border fence to also take part.
Under the Cuban Adjustment Act of 1966, Cuban migrants are allowed to enter the U.S. border illegally and are given asylum seeker status because they’re fleeing political persecution. The U.S. and Cuba normalized relations in December 2014, which led to President Barack Obama’s visit in March to Havana.
Now, this law designating special status for Cuban migrants is expected to change, taking welfare benefits away from those leaving Cuba only to get jobs. Special status will be kept for those fleeing due to political persecution.
Former presidential contender Sen. [crscore]Marco Rubio[/crscore] stated in April that while he continues to support the Cuban Adjustment Act, he wants to ensure it is not abused. The Florida senator is hoping to,”stop providing refugee benefits to those coming from the island strictly for economic reasons,” according to Reuters.
“In essence, our existing law treats all Cubans categorically as if they were refugees whether or not they can prove it,” Rubio told the news wire service. One of the special status benefits granted solely to Cuban asylum seekers is guaranteed access to welfare for their first five years in the U.S.
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