WASHINGTON, DC – Congresswoman Kay Granger (TX-12) traveled last week to the Costa Rica – Nicaragua border area to gain an understanding of the difficulties faced in Central America by a large influx of Cuban migrants headed for the U.S. southern border.
Granger is the chairman of the House State and Foreign Operations Appropriations Subcommittee, and headed the House Speaker’s Working Group on national security and the humanitarian crisis on the southern border last year.
“We have seen thousands of Cubans migrating to Ecuador and then traveling through Central American countries, and we need to know what is going on there,” Granger said. “The Costa Ricans are one of our most stable partners in Latin America. Helping Costa Rica maintain its security will help the United States maintain national security.”
Granger pledged to work to ensure that U.S. aid will help Costa Rica deal with problems such as the Cuban migration issue, as well as drugs and other trafficking concerns.
Over the past year, tens of thousands of Cubans have crossed to Latin America and migrated overland to the U.S. border, according to U.S. Customs and Border Patrol officials. Thousands have crossed into Texas. Under a 1996 federal law, Cubans who are admitted or paroled into the U.S. can qualify for expedited proceedings to become a legal immigrant.
Nicaragua, Guatemala and Belize closed their borders to Cubans on November 15. The result is that 6,000-8,000 migrants have been stranded in Costa Rica.
Granger toured Cuban migrant centers along the border, and found that they were well-maintained by the Costa Ricans. She was joined by Congressman Henry Cuellar, (TX28). The group received briefings from U.S. Ambassador to Costa Rica S. Fitzgerald Haney, as well as the Costa Rican ambassador to the United States, the U.S. Coast Guard and a number of Costa Rican officials.
She also met with Costa Rican President Guillermo Solis, and he and other officials urged greater attention from the United States on the problems caused by the movement of drugs and human trafficking in Central America.
“Costa Rica, like other Central American countries, faces the problems of drug trafficking, human trafficking, and weapons trafficking all mixed together,” she said. “In my opinion, the U.S. must help Costa Rica improve its security, which will help us provide more security at our own borders.”