Nearly one million immigrants live in Chile, making up almost 5.5 percent of the country’s population. Chile's immigration laws, most of which were passed in 1975, are struggling to keep up. To help ease the situation, Libertad y Desarollo (LyD, Freedom and Development), an Atlas Network partner based in Santiago, is advocating for sustainable and regulated immigration in Chile. It organized a seminar with two other organizations, El Centro de Estudios del Desarrollo (CED, The Center for Development Studies) and El Servicio Jesuita a Migrantes (The Jesuit Migrant Service), to foster further discussions about immigration policy in the country.
“There are a large quantity of myths concerning immigration that have to be dispelled,” said LyD Board Member and President of Chilean Council for International Relations Hernán Felipe Errázuriz, who spoke to how migrations are “good” (translated from Spanish). “The right to migrate is a human right, but the right to immigrate is subject to the legislation of the receiving nation” (translated from Spanish).
Andrés Sanfuentes of CED raised concerns about the immigration laws and institutions of the country, claiming that Chile is unable to handle so many people. Others discussed the importance of human rights during the immigration process.
“[The immigration system] has to promote and protect the dignity and human rights of the migrants most excluded and their families,” said José Tomás Vicuña, the national director of El Servicio Jesuita a Migrante (translated from Spanish).
Representatives of the Chilean government even participated in the seminar, including speakers from the Department of Immigration, the main objectives of whom include modernization in the face of the influx of immigrants, and the need to balance safe and orderly migration with open borders.
“What worries us is that 700,000 people entered in the last 4 years,” said Álvaro Bellolio, head of the Immigration and Migration Department in Chile. “For us, we have to take concrete actions today.”
To continue Chile’s immigration conversation, Libertad y Desarollo released a popular video, “3 reasons to support a sustainable and regulated immigration” (video in Spanish).
Libertad y Desarollo has done further studies and analysis on the topic of immigration, available on its website.