Citizens of the neighboring country will have ten years to obtain a resident visa.
EL TIEMPO, February 8, 2021
(Translated by Eunice Gibson, CSN Volunteer Translator)
Experts and international organizations are calling President Iván Duque’s announcement historic. He would create the (ETPV), an instrument that would permit the regularization of the citizens of the neighboring country that now are in Colombia.
Among the benefits would be that the identification of the migrant population would be permitted, as well as the issuance of temporary protection permits. They could even obtain a resident visa within ten years.
This statute is a mechanism to complement the international refugee protection regulations and, according to the government, allows filling gaps that now exist, based on the reality of migration and the country’s capacity to respond socially, economically, and institutionally.
According to the most recent statistics from Migration Colombia, ending with December 31, 2020, there are now 1,729,000 Venezuelan migrants in Colombian territory. Of those, more than 966,000, nearly 56%, are undocumented.
The government’s announcement was applauded by international organizations, including the United Nations, which stated that this will “contribute to the country’s economy.”
“We welcome President Iván Duque’s announcement about the temporary protection that his government will give to the 1.7 million Venezuelans in Colombia. This act of solidarity will allow the migrants and refugees to have access to basic services, and they will be able to contribute to the country’s economy.”
This measure, according to analysts, will be key for this country, because it means that the citizens that have come here from Venezuela will have more access to basic services such as health and education and furthermore, it will facilitate their entry into the formal job market, which could help this country economically in times when public finances have been hit hard by the pandemic.
That being true, as the researcher Jorge Mantilla, a researcher associated with the Great Cities Institute in Chicago, and who has studied this phenomenon, explained, regularization doesn’t imply that the Venezuelans would acquire Colombian nationality.
“The Temporary Protection Statute does not give the Venezuelan migrants the right to vote.”
“The Temporary Protection Statute does not give the Venezuelan migrants the right to vote. It’s a protection measure that gives them access to services and to the possibility of a formal job. It’s a humanitarian measure that does not provide nationality,” said Mantilla.
One of the most important advances that this statute provides has to do with health, as it permits the citizens of that country to have a right to use the health services in Colombia in a more equitable manner, but it also implies that they can contribute formally to the system.
In the same way, according to the analysts, that would also have an impact on this country’s economy, not just for the entry of thousands of people into the formal economy, but also there would be more people paying taxes and there would be more control over their resources.
“Regularizing the situation of nearly a million Venezuelan migrants is not just the correct choice of public policy at this time, but it’s also a very large investment in the future of this country,” stated the historian and researcher in areas of citizen security Alberto Sánchez. In fact, a recent investigation by the Migration Policy Institute demonstrated that the public policies that improved the integration of migrants and refugees into the labor markets of the receiving countries could play an important role in the reduction of criminality.
“The relationship between the unemployment of the Venezuelans and non-violent crime in Colombia may be an argument for taking on more actively the problems of regular status and labor force integration that those recently arrived from Venezuela have to confront, especially while the conditions that are causing the crisis of massive displacement are persisting,” states the report ‘Venezuelan Immigrants, Crime, and False Perceptions,” prepared by the Institute.
And it adds: “In particular, the results of this analysis suggest that the public policies that improve the integration of the migrants and refugees into the labor markets of the receiving countries could play an important role in the reduction of the already low rates of criminality observed in this data, a subject that deserves further study.”
Of the 1.7 million Venezuelans that are in Colombia, 58% are men and women between 18 and 39 years of age, while more than 28% are boys, girls, and adolescents.
According to Migration Colombia, in November and December of 2020 and because of the current closure of the frontier, more than 18,000 Venezuelan migrants were located on the highways and it’s believed that every day, just in Norte de Santander, more than 300 migrants try to enter Colombia illegally.
According to the United Nations, (ONU), more than five million Venezuelans have left their country in recent years, which means that more than 34% of all of the Venezuelans that have abandoned their country are now in Colombia.
The government’s decision generated positive reactions from different sectors. Even leaders of the Venezuelan opposition thanked Duque.
“In the name of Venezuelans, I want to thank you, President Iván Duque, for confirming your determination and commitment in confronting the dictatorship and aiding our people by giving temporary protection status to our migrants in Colombia. You can always count on Venezuela?” said Juan Guaidó.
Tweet from Antonio Ledezma, (ex-Mayor of Caracas)
URGENT. Last minute.
President Iván Duque issues a decree of protection for more than 1,700,000 Venezuelan refugees in Colombian territory. Thanks to Colombia, to its people, and to its government for that effective solidarity. Other governments should emulate these measures.
Tweet from Filippo Grandi (UN High Commissioner for Refugees)
Today Colombia set an example for the region and for the whole world in giving temporary protection status for ten years to all the Venezuelans in Colombian territory.
My thanks to President Iván Duque, to his government, and to the people of Colombia for this historic and generous act.