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Stranded Cuban Migrants Allowed to Continue Journey to US

FILE - Cuban migrants wait to board a bus to take them to a shelter, outside an immigration office at the border between Costa Rica and Nicaragua, in Penas Blancas, Costa Rica, Nov. 25, 2015.

Several thousand stranded Cuban migrants can continue their journey to the United States after an agreement reached by a group of Central American nations.

The migrants have been stuck in Costa Rica for more than a month but a decision by foreign ministers from the SICA regional group and Mexico will allow Cubans to be airlifted to El Salvador from Costa Rica and then placed on buses for the U.S.

U.S. policy allows Cuban migrants who arrive on land to enter the country and apply for residency. Those intercepted at sea are sent back to Cuba. Many Cubans fear that the thaw in relations between Cuba and the U.S. may eventually lead to an end to that preferential treatment. The numbers of Cubans trying to make their way to the United States has risen substantially since the announcement in December of 2014 that the two countries were restoring diplomatic relations.

The current crisis began when this group of migrants, estimated to number 7,000, traveled from Cuba to Ecuador through Colombia and Panama and into Costa Rica where they have been blocked by Nicaragua.

The crisis has caused tension between Costa Rica and Nicaragua

Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez said “U.S. migration policy toward Cuba must change.”