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Of the total number of foreign-born people who tried to enter the country illegally, 95% were rejected in the northern part of the country,
near the border with Nicaragua. / Ministry of Security courtesy photo


Published Wednesday, July 22, 2020

Congress request more control on
illegal entries to the country

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Epsy Campbell-Barr, vice president, was called to appear before the deputies of the Alajuela Special Commission in the Congress, to answer the doubts of the deputies about the actions that the Government has taken to mitigate the impact of covid-19 and the illegal entry of foreign-born people in the Northern region of the country.

The government decreed a National Emergency and border closure since March intending to contain the virus.

According to Campbell, who is also the coordinator of the Development Strip Program for the Northern Zone created to contain the illegal entry of foreign-born people to the country, police forces maintain permanent surveillance along 309 kilometers of the border zone.

The surveillance also identifies unauthorized entry zones.

As a result of this patrolling, 18,107 foreign-born people have been refused entry into the country, when they were trying to evade the closing of borders, the highest number in history, Campbell said.

According to data provided by the government, of the total number of foreign-born people who tried to enter the country illegally, 95% were rejected in the northern part of the country, near the border with Nicaragua.

Additionally, 102,000 foreign-born people have legally entered the country.

However, another 4,851 foreign-born people were rejected from entering because they left the country after the borders were closed.

To increase surveillance on the northern border, Campbell said some of the most important strategies to contain the entry of unauthorized foreign-born people are to:

• Sanction a border police base in Las Tablillas District in Alajuela Province.

• Use drones to monitor areas of difficult access.

• Continue with the authorities of the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Security to routinely inspect companies known to hire foreign-born people to work in agricultural activities in the northern zone.

• Develop a Command Center in the Los Chiles District, in the northern zone, to make decisions regarding the management of the unauthorized entry of foreign-born people and risk of the spread of the virus.

"It is no secret that the extent and geographic complexity demands an amount of staff and resources that the country lacks," Campbell said. "No country in the world escapes the problem of border porosity and migratory flows."

According to Campbell, the government has been responsible for taking health and safety measures to protect citizens.

However, not all deputies agree with Campbell.

According to deputy Erick Rodriguez, although Campbell assures that the operations are successful and presents numbers of those rejected that are more than those who have entered, some data show the opposite.

"Because if they say that nobody enters here, it is because they have the data to say that nobody filtered. And, I do have data from the people of the cantons of San Carlos on the northern border, about how many people have entered, putting in risk the health of all Costa Ricans," Rodriguez said.

According to Rodríguez, the country makes a great effort to control the pandemic, which has had a very high cost in medical care. One of the reasons for the high-cost for healthcare is that public health services attend all covid-19 patients regardless of legal status. "It has been said that because we are supportive, we care for patients, and they do not attend patients by type nationality," he said.

“The congressman asked the government to be vigilant and to execute stricter efforts in the northern zone, to avoid more contagions and the illegal entrance of Nicaraguans," Congress said in its statement.

What control measures are developing in your country to prevent the entry of unauthorized immigrants?  We would like to know your thoughts on this story. Send your comments to


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