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jaguar Mowgli and Rica Artis JN6A3817 by safi kok

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Costa Rica is best known for its vacation beaches and lush rain forests. But recently it has become a thoroughfare for tens of thousands of migrants from South America and elsewhere who are hoping to reach the U.S.

Many are from the Caribbean, but a significant number trekking through the country are Africans and Southeast Asians, and collectively, they are straining Costa Rica’s welcoming reputation.

Migration officer Marvin Rodriguez is on the phone. He’s getting word that authorities are sending two buses carrying 120 migrants that just crossed into Costa Rica on its southern border with Panama.

It’ll take about two hours for them to arrive at this newly erected migrant shelter where he’s stationed, in the small town of Buenos Aires, just north of the border.

“We’ve never seen anything like this,” says Rodriguez.

But this is becoming increasingly common in Costa Rica.

Costa Rica Becomes A Magnet For Migrants

Photos: Ezequiel Becerra/AFP/Getty Images and Carrie Kahn/NPR