cuban migrants pitbull
A Cuban migrant walks at a temporary shelter in the town of La Cruz near the border between Costa Rica and Nicaragua, December 24, 2015. The tattoo reads “Si no hay carro nos vamos en balsa” (If there’s not car, we’ll raft), a lyric in Spanish that is spoken by Cuban-American rapper Pitbull in the song “Rain Over Me” (2011). REUTERS/Oswaldo Rivas

Central American leaders announced from Guatemala on Monday a pilot program that would begin to evacuate some of the estimated 8,300 Cuban migrants currently camped out along the Costa Rica/Nicaragua border. An yet-to-be-announced number of migrants will be flown to El Salvador during the first week of Jan., according to El Universal and La Nación , who cited Costa Rican officials. From there, migrants will be bussed to Guatemala, and then cross the Mexico/Guatemala border.

The thousands of Cuban migrants are trying to reach the U.S. where under current law they’ll almost automatically be granted asylum and permission to work. Costa Rica, meanwhile, is scrambling to rid itself of the thousands of migrants camped along the Nicaragua border, after their neighbor to the north, a staunch Cuban ally, denied migrants permission to travel through.

Costa Rica also announced this week that it will begin to deport Cuba migrants whose visas have expired, and will not issue new visas. Costa Rican officials are also adamant that only migrants presently in the country will benefit from the plane evacuations to El Salvador, the so-called “air bridge” around or across Nicaragua (no details yet on which).

Guatemalan authorities do not want Cuban migrants lingering in their country either. They reportedly agreed to the plan only after assurances that the migrants would be allowed to cross into Mexico.

Cuban migrants are rushing to America in the wake of warming Cuban-U.S. relations fearing that their exceptional immigration privileges may soon come to an end. That is, they suspect that they wouldn’t be considered refugees under normal asylum-seeker standards.

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