Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Colombia deports 1,350 travelers amid crackdown on Cuban migrants

Colombia deports 1,350 travelers amid crackdown on Cuban migrants

Colombia has deported more than 1,350 undocumented migrants in recent
days — many of them Cubans trying to reach the United States — as the
Andean nation becomes the latest to crack down on human smuggling.

Colombia's Foreign Ministry reported late Monday that there were only
about 350 migrants left in and around the port city of Turbo, down from
about 1,800 in May.

Last week, authorities here warned the migrants, who had been camping
out in the city after Panama closed its borders to them earlier this
year, that they could either leave the country under their own accord or
be deported.

Darien trek

On Monday, Panama reported that an estimated 800 migrants bound for the
United States were attempting to cross into Central America through the
dense and dangerous Darien jungle. Large swaths of the Colombian Darien
are controlled by guerrilla groups and smuggling networks.

"We're worried about what might happen to irregular migrants that decide
to continue their journey with criminal gangs that are dedicated to
human smuggling," Colombia's Foreign Ministry said in a statement late

Colombia had been under pressure by human rights groups to give Cubans
stranded here asylum rather than deport them back to the island or their
last point of entry.

The Foreign Ministry said none of the migrants who had reached Turbo had
asked for asylum. Rather, they were trying to reach the United States:
"The majority of them have said they fear losing benefits in the United
States that come with 'wet foot dry foot' and the Cuban Adjustment [Act]."

Cubans who do reach the United States are eligible for a number of
economic benefits and a fast-track to citizenship. The government in
Havana has blamed the U.S. policy for triggering brain drain and fueling
the migratory crisis.

Source: Colombia deports 1,350 travelers amid crackdown on Cuban
migrants | In Cuba Today -
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