San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Immigration Bill Under Constitutionality Review

A bill to overhaul the country’s immigrationrules – including guidelines forobtaining residency and penalties foremploying or assisting illegal immigrants– will be reviewed for its constitutionalityin the Constitutional Chamber of theSupreme Court (Sala IV), the LegislativeAssembly announced this week.The assembly approved the bill in thefirst of two debates last week (TT, June10). Before it is voted on in second debate,the Sala IV gets one month to review thebill for possible constitutional violations.The 248-article legislation punisheswith fines employees of foreigners disqualifiedfrom working and people and companiesthat provide illegal immigrants withhousing. It punishes with jail time peoplewho transport illegal immigrants avoidingborders or using fake documents.The law, as currently proposed, will notincrease the $600 income requirement forretirees seeking residency here under thepensionados category, as was previouslyproposed. Foreigners also will still beallowed to apply for residency as rentistasif they can prove a monthly income of$1,000.Some legislators, particularly thosefrom the Citizen Action Party (PAC), saythe legislation violates the human rightsof immigrants.Costa Rica’s Episcopal Conference,representing the Catholic Church, agrees.Earlier this month, it voiced concernsabout the possibility of human-rights violationsagainst immigrants being perpetuatedif the bill becomes a law.

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