#CostaRica sets date for 2nd airlift of stranded #Cubans

Costa Rica has set a Feb. 4 date for a second airlift of Cuban migrants who have been stranded for over two months at the country’s northern border with Nicaragua, officials said Monday.

Costa Rica’s immigration agency announced the next flight will ferry 184 Cubans to El Salvador, from where they will continue by land north toward the United States. Costa Rican authorities were contacting those on the list to let them know what documents they will need to present.

The migrants are responsible for the cost of the air bridge: $555 per adult, plus $75 total for Salvadoran and Guatemalan visas. The travel cost is $350 for children between 2 and 12 years old, and $150 for those under the age of 2.

After the flight is filled up, “we will immediately begin to prepare the next one,” immigration agency director Kathya Rodriguez said.

Thousands of Cuban migrants have been stuck in Costa Rica since Nicaragua closed its southern border to them Nov. 14.

The Cubans say their goal is to reach the United States, where favorable immigration policies allow them to remain and apply for residency.

The U.S. rules irk Havana, which says they foment brain drain and encourage islanders to attempt risky migration routes. Backers of the policies say they offer refuge to people fleeing Cuba’s communist system.

The first airlift took place Jan. 12 from Costa Rica to El Salvador, leapfrogging Nicaragua. The migrants then traveled by bus through Guatemala and into southern Mexico, where authorities issued them 20-day transit visas to reach the United States.

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