Amnesty International's office in Chile Tuesday “repudiated” the wave of arrests and deportations of migrants after the enactment of the new immigration law promoted by the administration of President Sebastián Piñera, it was announced.
This is a contempt for human and constitutional rights that protect these people and that the State must respect, said AI in a statement.
The Piñera Government announced last Saturday the beginning of deportation proceedings for some 1,500 foreigners during 2021 in 15 different flights, as per the new Migration Law in force for merely a fortnight.
The first flight left a few days ago from Iquique to Caracas carrying a group of 55 people in a situation of migratory irregularity even though many of these people did not have a court order to that effect, Amnesty International warned. This may imply a violation of the legal protections recognized by the Constitution of Chile, added the organization, since migrants were unable to resort to expulsion or request protection.
Under the slogan getting the house in order, Piñera enacted the new Migration Law that requires foreigners to obtain visas in their countries of origin to prevent them from entering the country as tourists and changing their immigration status to look for work.
While for the ruling party the new norm is a way to face the growing migratory phenomenon, the opposition has widely criticized the law since they fear it will only result in more migrants entering through unauthorized crossings.
The enactment of the law occurred at a time of migratory boom, especially on the northern border with Bolivia, where during February and March more than a thousand immigrants were registered irregularly, causing the collapse of several small border towns.
Shortages, clashes between authorities and migrant groups, and the Covid-19 health crisis created a climate of maximum tension in the region, which escalated with the death of five foreigners. The Government then authorized the deployment of the Armed Forces to combat the smuggling of migrants at that point on the border, where coyotes are common.
Despite the pandemic and the social crisis that lasted for more than a year, Chile continues to be one of the most attractive countries to migrate to within Latin America due to its political and economic stability.
According to the Migration Department, there are 1.4 million migrants in Chile, which is 7% of the population. Venezuelans top the list, followed by Peruvians, Haitians and Colombians.