Integration of migrants at local level: Costa Rica delegation on study visit to Spain

Between 18 and 22 September 2017, MIEUX organised a study visit for a delegation of four Costa Rican officials from the Ministries of Labour and Social Security, Public Education and the Directorate for Integration and Human Development (DIDH) under the General Directorate of Migration and Foreigners (DGME) to Madrid and Barcelona (Spain). This activity is part of the six-step action designed to support the Costa Rican Directorate General for Migration and Foreigners (DGME) in developing its second National Integration Plan (2018-2022).

The delegation met with national and local actors in Madrid and in Barcelona to exchange existing practices, initiatives and challenges in the area of integration of migrants with their Spanish counterparts.

Spain’s experience in managing surges of migrations flows and in implementing successful integration policies through multi-tier governments at local, regional and national level is an excellent example for Costa Rica to draw inspiration from.

The variety of actors and initiatives visited during the five-day trip is in line with the Costa Rican government’s motivation behind drafting a new National Integration Plan that goes beyond the current model of providing welfare and assistance to an integral model that looks at integration from multiple angles. 

In fact, the new plan will make reference to:

  • Integration of vulnerable migrants
  • Integration into the labour market
  • Integration into the education system
  • Xenophobia and racism
  • Access to health

During the visit, the domestic authorities of Madrid and Barcelona provided the Costa Rican delegation with an overview of their integration policies and institutions, sharing how they approach multi-level coordination between government agencies and institutions tasked with the integration of migrants.

The delegation met with NGOs ACCEM, CEPAIM and Apropem-Nos, leading examples of civil society organisations that cooperate with governments tackling integration of asylum seekers, refugees and migrants by providing vocational training and housing support programmes.

The delegates will present the results, lessons learnt and reflections from the study visit to Spain in an interactive group discussion planned for November 2017, the next activity part of the strategy to deliver a new National Integration Plan before the end of 2018.

Costa Rica: steps to integration policies

Costa Rica’s political stability, relatively high standard of living and fast-growing economy have made the country an attractive destination for migrants, particularly from Central America. In addition to this, Costa Rica has been traditionally been a country of destination for individuals seeking international protection within the region, with 80% of asylum seekers coming from Colombia, El Salvador and Venezuela.

The General Law on Migration and Foreigners in 2009 and the National Integral Policy on Migration (2013-2023) were first steps towards creating a comprehensive policy framework on immigration.

The law and policy are noteworthy for their definition of integration that included immigrants, returnees and the diaspora.

They were followed by the adoption of the first National Integration Plan (NIP) for the period 2013-2017, developed with the support of MIEUX. The NIP made public services universally accessible to all migrants.

Integration has been identified by the government as a priority, especially given the increase in registered foreign residents by 16% between 2011 and 2015 alongside a surge in asylum applications of 176% between 2013 and 2015, coupled with the challenges encountered in the integration of migrants from certain backgrounds.

MIEUX and Costa Rica: review of current National Integration Plan (NIP)

The Directorate for Integration and Human Development (DIDH) under the General Directorate of Migration and Foreigners (DGME) requested the assistance of MIEUX in updating the current NIP to address the new migration situation in Costa Rica (immigrants countries of origin have diversified, increase in asylum applications due to the situation in the Northern Triangle and Venezuela etc.).

The government is aware that targeted action is needed to avoid the exclusion of immigrants, fight against discrimination and xenophobia, and promote social cohesion in Costa Rica.

MIEUX’s team designed an Action comprising six coherent activities that will feed into the development and implementation of the second National Integration Plan (2018-2022).


Get an overview of all activities planned for Costa Rica

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