Chile: Government Modifies Migration Policies

The Chilean government modified its migration policies on Monday. The changes come just months after the country elected its new president, Sebastian Piñera. Chilean newspaper El Mercurio reports that the changes create a series of visas.

The special visas will reportedly benefit Venezuelan and Haitian citizens. In Venezuela’s case, the ”responsabilidad democratica” (democratic responsibility) visa will give a temporary residence to those who enter the country. The visa is for one year but Venezuelans can extend it for one more.

Reports say the country will start giving out the visas on April 16. The government has not given any specific details on the visas, including what happens after the temporary residence runs out for Venezuelans.

Sebastian Piñera tweeted a few hours ago that they had proposed a new migration law that opens its doors to those who enter the country legally and come to contribute with their development. The tweet adds that the changes close the doors to those who pretend to enter the country illegally, commit crimes or cause harm to Chileans.

The changes also leave out those who have a criminal record and speed up the deportation process for those who have broken the law or remain in the country illegally. Piñera, who took office last month, said throughout his presidential campaign that there would be changes to the migration policies.

In recent years, Chile has seen a record number of arrivals. The Miami Herald reported back in February that Haiti had lost one percent of its population to Chile in 2017. The majority are seeking a better life after the natural disasters that have affected their country.

Chile has also received thousands of Venezuelans in the last few years. The South American nation has lost a lot of its population due to the economic and political crisis. Venezuelans have fled to many other countries but Chile has become a popular destination. The new changes will grant temporary residence for at least a year to those who enter the country. Recent estimates say nearly one million Venezuelans have left their country in the last two years. Other reports say as much as four million Venezuelans have left the country since Hugo Chavez took power in 1999.

Chile’s population has gone from six million in the late 1950s to over 17 million today. From 1960 to 2012, the country’s population grew 127 percent.