"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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