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U.S. Is The Largest But Not The Only Recipient Of Central American Immigrants In Latest Surge

Eric L. Olson

Associate Director Eric L.Olson provides a quote on the influx of unaccompanied minors to countries like Nicaragua and Costa Rica.

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"Costa Rica and Panama are seen as the emerging economic and political safe havens of Central America with relatively stable democratic governments and growing markets for work. Nicaragua, while having the second-highest level of poverty in the Western Hemisphere and a less-than-transparent government, is still viewed by many migrants from the Northern Triangle as a desirable destination given its close proximity to their home nations, lower violent crime levels and the possibility of family members living there.

“Nicaragua is poorer but it’s far less violent,” Eric Olson, the associate director of the Woodrow Wilson Center’s Latin American program, told FNL. “Costa Rica is a country that is so small that it depends on other Latin American labor for its own economic livelihood.”

The UNHCR said that defining these migrants as either refugees or immigrants is just as difficult for the Central American nations receiving them as it is for the U.S., given the factors uprooting people from their homes. On one hand there is the violence and widespread poverty driving people to migrate, but better opportunities abroad also factor in."

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About the Author

Eric L. Olson

Eric L. Olson

Global Fellow;
Director of the Central America-D.C. Platform, Seattle International Foundation
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Latin American Program

The Wilson Center’s prestigious Latin American Program provides non-partisan expertise to a broad community of decision makers in the United States and Latin America on critical policy issues facing the Hemisphere. The Program provides insightful and actionable research for policymakers, private sector leaders, journalists, and public intellectuals in the United States and Latin America. To bridge the gap between scholarship and policy action, it fosters new inquiry, sponsors high-level public and private meetings among multiple stakeholders, and explores policy options to improve outcomes for citizens throughout the Americas. Drawing on the Wilson Center’s strength as the nation’s key non-partisan forum, the Program serves as a trusted source of analysis and a vital point of contact between the worlds of scholarship and action.  Read more

Latin American Program

The Wilson Center’s prestigious Latin American Program provides non-partisan expertise to a broad community of decision makers in the United States and Latin America on critical policy issues facing the Hemisphere. The Program provides insightful and actionable research for policymakers, private sector leaders, journalists, and public intellectuals in the United States and Latin America. To bridge the gap between scholarship and policy action, it fosters new inquiry, sponsors high-level public and private meetings among multiple stakeholders, and explores policy options to improve outcomes for citizens throughout the Americas. Drawing on the Wilson Center’s strength as the nation’s key non-partisan forum, the Program serves as a trusted source of analysis and a vital point of contact between the worlds of scholarship and action.  Read more