San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Arias Administration Plans To Postpone Immigration Reform

The administration of President Oscar Arias plans to send a bill to the Legislative Assembly that would prevent the new Immigration Law from taking effect in August and delay it for at least a year. The delay is designed to give the government time to prepare for the costs of implementing the law and examine aspects of the law that have been criticized by the President, as well as academics, religious figures and the Ombudsman’s Office.

Mario Zamora, the new director of Immigration, told the daily La Nación his institution would have to spend ¢7 billion ($13.7 million) for the new police, infrastructure and administrative reforms the law demands. For example, the law would require increasing the Immigration Police force from 35 to 600.

Zamora added that the law, which cracks down on illegal immigration through measures such as increased penalties for people who hire illegal immigrants, includes “eminently repressive” regulations, and Arias administration officials would use a delay to study reforms to counteract those regulations.

Public Security Minister Fernando Berrocal told the daily the government would have to spend “a fortune” to apply the new law, and that he couldn’t understand how the law could have been drafted.

The bill the Arias administration plans to submit would alter Article 269 of the law; the article states that the law must take effect eight months after its publication in the official government daily La Gaceta, which took place Dec. 12, 2005.

Other measures the law includes are greater freedom for police in their efforts to find and remove illegal immigrants, detention for an undefined length of time for those suspected of being illegal immigrants, and changes to improve the efficiency of Immigration (TT, Aug. 26, 2005).


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