PANAMA CITY.- The government of Panama will treat Cubans who are crossing the country on their way to the United States in the same way as other undocumented migrants, the director of the National Migration Service, Javier Carrillo, told Efe.
"To any foreigner who enters the country illegally, the law is applied. They (the Cubans) entered illegally in Panama, they are here in an irregular status," Carrillo explained.
The US and Cuba announced on Thursday an immigration agreement that eliminates with immediate effect the policy "dry feet / wet feet", which was adopted in 1995 and which gave Cubans the possibility of obtaining permanent residence one year after arriving to USA, even if they did it illegally, as long as they were not intercepted at sea.
Before the repeal of the "dry feet / wet feet" policy, Panama allowed Cubans to cross the country, but with due the migratory changes adopted by the United States, the situation "has changed," the official said.
"We will not do any special operations against them, nor will we go to the shelter to look for them. But if an agent asks them for papers in the street and they do not have it, we will apply the same rules that we apply to all irregular foreigners," among which is the deportation, Carrillo added.
Currently, local authorities estimate that the Cubans who are going through Panama do not exceed 200, half of which are in a shelter managed by the religious organization Caritas. EFE