WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden will host Costa Rica President Rodrigo Chaves at the White House on Tuesday, following an agreement between the two nations on possible legal pathways for migrants.
White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said in a statement Wednesday the two leaders will discuss how the nations can “build out inclusive and sustainable economies … advance democratic values in the region, promote safe and orderly migration … and address regional security challenges.”
In recent years, Costa Rica, with a population of 5 million, has become one of the world’s leading spots for asylum requests.
In June, Costa Rica and the U.S. agreed to open potential legal pathways to the United States for some of the Nicaraguan and Venezuelan migrants who are among the 240,000 asylum seekers in the Central American nation.
The agreement was aimed at reducing the pressure on Costa Rica’s overwhelmed asylum system and heading off asylum seekers who could give up on the slow process in Costa Rica, and instead set off for the U.S.-Mexico border.
Chaves said in December the policies were being abused by people looking only to come work and then leave, and the policies would be tightened. As an alternative, officials offered a two-year work permit for Nicaraguans, Venezuelans and Cubans in exchange for dropping their longer-term asylum cases.
Meanwhile, the U.S. is grappling with increasing numbers of migrants to the U.S.-Mexico border and clamped down on illegal crossing while offering expanded pathways.