The Public Forces and Border Police are developing operations on the southern border to stop the entry of irregular migrants and apprehend those in national territory who have not presented themselves to migration authorities.
To comply with the new regulation, which was ordered by the Minister of Public Safety Gustavo Mata Vega, the police are keeping strict day-and-night control in the area. The people who are detained on irregular condition will be subject to the deportation process.
The flow of migrants into Costa Rica from Panama has become unstoppable, exceeding the Government’s capability to respond. Hundreds arrive daily asking for a temporary visa. The country has reiterated that its southern border is not open to the entry of irregular migrants and will not issue visas to extracontinental irregular migrants.
According to immigration officials, the Government receives more than 150 requests daily for the 25-day ‘in transit’ permit that allows the migrants to remain in the country legally as they look for solutions to move north, with their final destination being the United States. Immigration can only handle 100 requests daily, so people are forced to wait at the border. The waiting list is days long.
The immigrants are mostly from the Caribbean and some countries in Africa. Many that got through immigration have already made their way to the U.S., by their own means, but many others still remain in Costa Rica.
The problem is not only with the Government’s ability to process the large amount of applications, or the migrant’s ability to travel on to the U.S. – the route is very dangerous. Just last week, the decomposing bodies of eight undocumented migrants apparently headed to the US were found in Nicaragua’s vast southern freshwater Lake Nicaragua.
The situation in Costa Rica got some relief from a decision made by Colombia last week to increase border controls. Most migrants originate from this country, or pass through it to Panama and Costa Rica. On Tuesday, Colombia announced it will undertake emergency measures against illegal migration, including deporting thousands of Cuban and other migrants and reinforcing its borders.
Nicaragua has also stepped up its border controls. Since November of last year, the country has bolstered security along its southern border with Costa Rica to keep out undocumented migrants. As a result, there are about 2,500 migrants staying in tents, schools, charity shelters, church properties and cheap hotels in Costa Rica, looking for ways to cross through to Nicaragua and continue north.