Friday, April 28, 2006

Costa Rica seeks to shut its doors to illegal migrants from Nicaragua

Nicaraguan immigrants protest against restrictive immigration laws outside the Presidential House in San Jose, Costa Rica, Tuesday, April 25, 2006. Between 500,000 and 1,000,000 Nicaraguans live and work in Costa Rica according to government studies.(AP Photo/Kent Gilbert)The Central American nation is worried that the unchecked influx is straining its services.

By Marla Dickerson and Rebecca Kimitch
Special to The L.A Times

SAN JOSE, Costa Rica — Crime and joblessness have long been part of the tough Leon XIII neighborhood of Costa Rica's capital, where residents such as Alexandra Martinez do their best to steer clear of broken pavement and street-corner drug dealers.

But the 37-year-old homemaker says that things have gotten worse in the last few years. Her explanation: "There are a lot of Nicas here," she says, using a slang term for Nicaraguans.

Martinez says these immigrants, many of them undocumented, are hard-drinking, aggressive people who compete with Costa Ricans for jobs and drain the nation's public services. She approves of a recent federal law aimed at stemming the influx.

"It's the biggest problem we face in the country," she says.

Many Costa Ricans are more temperate than Martinez when discussing immigration. But the continued southward flow of impoverished Nicaraguans into Central America's most prosperous nation has inflamed tensions between these neighbors.

To read the entire article click here.

OK this is a March 23 story, but with all the immigration issues being so relevant in the U.S right now I thought it might be a good time to share it with all of you. The situation in Costa Rica and the U.S regarding illegal immigration may have more similarities than you might think. Both countries are trying to pass new laws to control it, both have immigrants in their streets protesting for their rights and both are divided on how to act on this sensitive issue.

Uri Ridelman

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