Stuck in Costa Rica, no way to move forward to their final destination, the United States, some 700 migrants amassed at the Peñas Blancas border waiting, hoping Nicaragua will open its border. are living a nightmare.
“Nosotros aquí estamos sufriendo mucho.”>”We here are suffering. We arrived in Costa Rica as immigrants, but they do not treat us as immigrants. We do not have where to sleep or live. We are sufferning here,” many say.
Of the 700, nearly 400 have received documents to move freely in Costa Rica. They mainly come from Africa, but also from Asia. Many arrive by air in Ecuador or Brasil, others by cargo ships, then by land start their trip north, through Colombia, Panama and Costa Rica, the last stop due to the closed border at Nicaragua.
Authorities do not know what to do: they cannot deport them for a number of reasons, among is the risk to their lives if they are sent back to the home country. Authorities also fear that some 10.000 or more are headed this way, which could cause a humanitarian crisis.
Costa Rica was able to resolve the Cuban migrant crisis earlier this year, after more than 8.000 Cubans were stuck at the Nicaragua border for more than two months. Costa Rica was finally able to negotiate an airlift (the Cubans had to pay the cost of the fligth) to Mexico, near the U.S. border. The majority of the Cubans, almost 5,000 did fly out of Costa Rica, the other 3,000 or so are believed to have left the country by way of coyotes (traffickers), making their way to the U.S. by land.
However, the Cubans have special status setting foot in the United States. By way of the Cuban Adjustment Act of 1963, that permits Cuban refugees to adjust to lawful permanent residence. The migrants now stuck in Costa Rica do not.