Immigrants in La Cruz will have the opportunity to get help doing procedures easier without having to go very far. In January, the World Migration Organization (WMO) and the canton’s local government will help them with the grand opening of an office in the municipal auditorium, adjacent to the bus terminal.
It’s a Municipal Center for Migrants. Since 2018, WMO has worked with municipalities throughout the country— mainly from the cantons with the highest density of migrant populations— to open these offices and help people in carrying out procedures.
The person in charge of the center will guide and assist migrants with procedures that they need to carry out in national institutions such as the Costa Rican Social Security Fund (CCSS), the Ministry of Public Education (MEP), the National Children’s Trust (PANI) and the Directorate General of Migration and Foreign Affairs (DGME for the Spanish acronym).
“The Municipal Center for Migrants directs and guides [people in] how to access some type of right,” WMO’s national coordinator for promoting migrants, Jennifer Becerra, told The Voice. “If you have a case that requires specific attention, we can write directly to those government entities internally,” she cited as an example.
Obviously our strong suit is the issue of immigration regularization, because regularization also goes hand in hand with access to many rights that immigrants require in the country,” she also added.
Currently, people with questions about regularization procedures must go to the Office of Migration and Foreign Affairs in Liberia, one hour away by bus.
“People no longer have to travel forty-odd kilometers, stand in line in Liberia and then travel the same distance back just to get information,” explained WMO communications officer Allan Ulloa.
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WMO currently has five municipal centers for migrants throughout the country in the cantons of Upala, Los Chiles, Tarrazú, Mora and now La Cruz. The latter is the first in the province of Guanacaste.
“La Cruz is a border canton and, by its very nature, required a point where people could have accurate and truthful information on immigration regularization when arriving at the municipality,” said Becerra.
The mayor of La Cruz, Alonso Alan, recognized the challenges that migration and the lack of timely attention have meant historically for the canton’s progress.
“Here we have citizens who are 40, 50 or 60 years old living in an irregular condition, undocumented and with Costa Rican families,” said Alan. “For us, it’s essential to be able to provide care and guidance for all cases. The only way to serve a community with dignity is to be prepared and trained to solve all the problems it faces,” he added.
According to the mayor, the experience of the Migramóvil— a bus that has visited the canton equipped and staffed by immigration officials— made them realize that the migrant population with questions or in an irregular condition is much larger than they had estimated.
This causes greater difficulties for the canton to move forward because they’re our neighbors. But now we also have Cubans, Venezuelans, Haitians and Nicaraguans,” he added.
For years, La Cruz has been the scene of a continuous crossing of Nicaraguans and Costa Ricans going both directions, but also at other times, such as the crossing of African, Asian and islander migrants, as well as groups stranded at the border due to migratory situations.
The office still doesn’t have an official opening date or telephone lines set up. If you have any questions, contact the Municipality of La Cruz at 2690-5700.