Costa Rica’s President Costa Rican, Ricardo Martínez, announced Monday that the country would close its borders to all international visitors and visitors from Mexico and Central America beginning on Friday, January 15.
The announcement comes as President Costa Rica is facing increasing international pressure to crack down on illegal immigration from Central America and Mexico, a growing population, and a shortage of medical personnel.
The announcement follows reports of the death of a 19-year-old Costa Rican woman who was allegedly killed while attempting to cross the border.
“I do not want to go into detail but I would like to inform the media that we will not allow any new arrivals to enter Costa Rica,” Martínetz said in a televised statement Monday.
“The only way for us to stop illegal immigration is to close our borders.”
The Costa Rican government has announced that the first group of illegal immigrants will be removed from Costa Rica.
The new arrivals will be allowed to stay in Costa Rica for the time being and receive humanitarian assistance from the government.
Martínezo said that if the first wave of illegal migrants continues to cross Costa Rica and Mexico in the coming days, the government will take further steps to expel them.
“If the illegal aliens stay in the country, we will expel them, so we will start the process of deporting them,” Martín told reporters.
“In the coming weeks, we plan to open the border again to allow them to enter, but the first step will be to open it to them to come home.”
In addition to the border closures, Martíneaz also said that Costa Rica would open a border crossing for Mexican and Central American immigrants from Mexico, Central America, and the United States.
In the event that the Costa Rican border is closed, Mexican and Mexican-born immigrants will also be permitted to apply for asylum in Costa Rican court.
On January 6, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees said that more than 6,000 people had arrived in Costa Rico in the last two months alone.
More than 7,000 migrants have crossed the border illegally into Costa Rica in the first half of 2017, according to data provided by the United Nation’s High Commissioner.