San José, Costa Rica, since 1956
US-Costa Rica relations

President Luis Guillermo Solís worried about U.S. immigration policies

President Luis Guillermo Solís said he is concerned about the impact on Central America of U.S. plans to carry out mass deportations.

Solís spoke in Washington on Thursday morning during a conversation at the Inter-American Dialogue as part of his official trip to the United States this week. He said immigration issues likely will be part of his dialogue with U.S. government officials.

The president’s schedule includes meetings with Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly on Thursday evening and with Vice President Mike Pence at the White House on Friday.

At the Dialogue event, Solís outlined a series of situations that he said are worrying his administration. Among them, he highlighted the ongoing migrant flows in the region.

“Whatever happens with immigration policy in the United States, it is going to affect Central America significantly,” Solís said.

President Solís speaks at the Inter-American Dialogue (IAD) in Washington, DC.

Nicholas Kamm / AFP

He said two flows of migrants are having a direct impact on Costa Rica: one is made up of migrants “brought back, sent back or coming back on their own” from the United States.

The other migrant flow is made up of people from the Northern Triangle — Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras — who are migrating to Costa Rica and Panama to get away from crime and other problems on their countries.

Solís said another immigration problem comes from migrants to Costa Rica from Asia and Africa. However, he noted that these flows have significantly decreased of late, likely because of recent policies issued by the U.S. as well as news about the threats they face on their route through Central America.

Those patterns might worsen once again in the face of a U.S. policy of massive deportations, Solís said.

The president stressed that this would have a severe impact on Costa Rica, as the country does not have the required conditions to withstand a massive arrival of migrants en route to or from the United States.

The number of migrants seeking to reach the U.S. “according to international agencies might double or triple in coming years, and that can put a lot of pressure on our country’s economic, social and political structures,” Solís said.

He highlighted, however, that even though immigration is a sensitive issue for Costa Rica, “the situation still is not out of control.”

Cooperation with Costa Rica

Solís’ visit to Washington coincides with the presentation of President Donald Trump’s first budget plan, which proposes drastic spending cuts.

Among these is a 31 percent cut in funding for the Department of State, which might represent cuts in international aid, including funds for Latin American countries.

Solís told reporters that he does not want to venture guesses about the future of aid for Costa Rica and the rest of Central America, as figures on budget plans are just now being disclosed.

“I don’t want to speculate about it. I don’t think it would help our interests,” Solís said. “How much it could specifically affect Central America and Costa Rica… that, we still don’t know.”

He noted that he believes there is a growing awareness among U.S. officials about the importance of security, migration and other issues in the region, and said he hopes budget cuts proposed by Trump will not impact aid programs.

Regarding his meeting with Kelly, the president said national security issues will be a priority. He said that Costa Rica has seen a significant influx of cocaine arriving from Colombia and a spike in homicides related to organized crime activity and battles between local cartels.

Solís noted that Costa Rica is currently curbing these problems, in part thanks to resources approved by the U.S. Congress last year that will not be affected by the next budget.

Contact L. Arias at larias@ticotimes.net

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Ken Morris

Well, US immigration policy does affect Costa Rica, and all Solis is doing is responsibly looking out for his own country.

Anyone who doesn’t believe that US immigration policy affects Costa Rica needs only remember the some 10,000 Cuban migrants Costa Rica recently had to deal with who were en route to the US because of that country’s “wet foot/dry foot” policy. True, I thought it was unwise of Costa Rica to let the Cubans in, but the reality is that some would have snuck in anyway.

Now a main concern for Costa Rica is Trump’s proposal for the US to accept far fewer refugees, as well as to more aggressively deport those who fail to make a successful case for asylum in the US. Many of these people are from the troubled countries in Central America and really are fleeing for their lives. If they can’t go to the US or remain in the US once there, many will look for a third country, and Costa Rica becomes an option. In fact, asylum petitions are already up in Costa Rica (as well as in Mexico).

There is also the understandable flight from Venezuela to consider. The fewer of these folks that the US accepts, the more of them will come to Costa Rica.

Of course, Costa Rica recognizes that immigrants are an asset to the society, and is quite willing to accept them. But the numbers matter. The population of the US is some 7-8 times larger than the population of Costa Rica, so it should be able to accept 7-8 times more refugees. This is actually roughly the multiple that currently applies. But Trump calls for cutting the number the US accepts to less than half, and by doing this, the number that comes to Costa Rica will skyrocket. The problem here isn’t that refugees aren’t good for a country–they are good–but that there’s a limit to the number any country can accept at one time, since there are up front costs as well as the issue of assimilation to consider.

It can be added that Costa Rica hosts more undocumented gringos than the US has undocumented Ticos, while it also deals with roughly the same or a higher percentage of its population being undocumented Latinos than the US.

It’s therefore really just a matter of each country pulling its own weight.

Of course, some argue that all countries can just close their doors to refugees. The US tried that once back in the 1930s when it denied entry to Jews fleeing Nazi Germany, and there aren’t many defenders of the US policy then left. Meanwhile, denying legal entry doesn’t stop the flow entirely. Many enter illegally.

So Solis is right to be concerned about how changes to US immigration policy may affect Costa Rica.

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landshark

The ONLY reason CR does now or might in the future have migration/immigration problems is that as a liberal socialist nation, it (and Solis) doesn’t understand the meaning of the word “NO!” If CR doesn’t want these hassles and costs, it should make it clear that its borders are closed! CR has much less border to close and keep closed than does the USA with Canada and Mexico. It takes firm commitment and enforcement by a strong leader…something the USA has lacked since JFK.

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Mark Kahle

Maybe CR should simply start taking what they do to their own people seriously. The constant releases of criminals back into the population, the constitution that is clearly ambiguous on rights, the mistreatment of fathers by the court system, the overtaxing of imports, the unscrupulous and abhorrent pensions paid to public officials, the death grip of unions on medicine, education and public services, the inequality that favors public over private wage earners, and on and on….

How about not aiding and abetting illegal aliens when they force their way onto CR soil which amounts to nothing but Human Trafficking if I did it?

There are so many basic things that need work here that is constantly put on the side burner in favor of feel good politics that hold this nation back rather than guide it into the future.

Any and all of the above could be accomplished locally without the need to go begging.

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TK Stoke

So, if I understand what Solis is saying is that it is OK for millions of ILLEGALS to go into the US and cost the taxpayers hundreds of BILLIONS OF DOLLARS but we don’t want them here.

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928gto

Relax! Its our obstructionist touchy feely lawmakers that control results, K!

Trumps a tecnician, idea guy So are you and i We’ll share But anchorman needs to yank the rope back. Power to the people! Liberty, peace, progress Heredia’s motto, love it, live it

Thanks for the attention

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928gto

Go easy,

My President bloviates alot…we an extremely reactionary country; after being rear-ended by commucrats for 30 years. I say, unite ALL of the Americas in prosperity with reasonably logical prosperity, dont panic!

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