Venezuelan migrants walk to the border between Venezuela and Colombia during the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in San Cristóbal, Venezuela on October 12, 2020. Photo taken on October 12, 2020. REUTERS / Carlos Eduardo Ramirez
One day after the announcement of the Temporary Statute for the Protection of Venezuelan Migrants, the national government began to clarify some of the most significant and controversial points of the measure that seeks to regularize the presence in Colombia of about 1.8 million Venezuelan migrants, generating positive impacts on the economy, public health and well-being of said population.
According to the President of the Republic, Iván Duque, the measure will be in force for two years, and covers, on the one hand, 704,000 foreigners who were already regularized and now do not have to update their permits periodically; and on the other, to the 996,000 who remain irregularly in the country, and of those who “do not know who they are, where they are, what their name is and their socioeconomic status.”
With this, what is sought is to achieve a significant mobilization of resources by the international community so that they can get out of scenarios of depression and ensure a legal stay in Colombia, contributing to the economic development of the country; as well as guaranteeing access to social protection tools for the most vulnerable people. In other words, access to the social security system, to better employment conditions and financial and social inclusion.
That said, some of the doubts that gravitate around the new statute must be addressed, which is currently available online, on the digital platforms of the national government for the receipt of comments and observations by the citizens, prior to its signature and officialization.
Who is covered by the statute?
The measure is limited to Venezuelan citizens -regular and irregular- who were in Colombian territory before the cut-off date, which is January 31, 2021.
“Those who are irregularly in our country are given time to approach the points determined by the immigration authority, Migración Colombia, so that they leave us their data, name, surname, their fingerprint, the biometric registration, and enter the Unique Registry of Migrants and they receive the certification of temporary protected status ”, explained Duque.
For his part, the director of Migration Colombia, Juan Francisco Espinosa, added that the statute does not cover those who, as of February 1, 2021, enter the country through trails or irregular passages. “Those who are outside the country and want to be part of it, must enter through an immigration control post, in this way we reward formality,” he said.
How is the regularization process?
According to the same official, the measure is divided into a phase of enrollment and socioeconomic characterization, and another of biometric identification which together will take a total of two years, with the majority of the concentration channeled over the course of 2021.
The first, said Espinosa, will be totally digital and will be carried out remotely throughout the country during the first quarter since the approval of the statute, through electronic terminals such as smart phones. “We cannot protect those we do not know and that is why this procedure begins by having all the comprehensive information on regular and irregular migrants.”
The second It will be based on the taking of images, fingerprints and ocular iris, to determine and collect the identity of the migrants. In the words of the Director of Migration, “they were left without a country to identify them and Colombia proceeds to do so. That will allow us opportunities for decent and good Venezuelans; and rigidity and judicialization for those who take the path that should not be ”.
Read also: Juan Guaidó thanked Iván Duque for the regularization of Venezuelans in Colombia
How to apply?
According to Espinosa, Migración Colombia will inform soon what is the digital route to access the regularization. “We are going to assign staff to collaborate with them so that this initial enrollment process is much easier and they begin to have a number that makes them part of that unique registry of Venezuelan migrants, “he said.
According to a report by Noticias Caracol, in this process it will be necessary for each Venezuelan citizen to Present your valid or expired identity document, the birth certificate, the express declaration of the intention to stay in Colombia and an authorization to collect biometric data.
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), Filippo Grandi, speaks during the announcement of the granting of legal status of temporary protection to Venezuelan migrants, in Bogotá, Colombia, February 8, 2021. REUTERS / Luisa González
Will the international community participate?
From the beginning, President Duque has been emphatic on the need for the support of resources from the international community. In this sense, the border manager, Lucas Gómez, assured that A donor conference is already scheduled for June 17.
It will be headed by Canada and aims to “work so that all those resources that we are going to collect reach not only the migrants but also the host communities. There will be resources for businesses and for the health system, ”said the official. It is worth remembering that Colombia has not stopped receiving congratulations since the announcement and that even, Filippo Grandi, High Commissioner for Refugees of the United Nations, He said it is the most important humanitarian gesture in the region since the 1980s.
How does health benefit?
According to the Minister of Health, Fernando Ruiz, the measure brings important benefits since the irregular migrant population is only receiving medical attention through the emergency services of public hospitals, which has cost these entities more than $ 258,000 million.
“The critical problem is that we are aware that by not having a regular condition in the country they do not have access to many treatments and prevention measures that they should be receiving against chronic diseases, such as cancer. This is good news for the entire protection structure of the health system, all the right to health that must include them, ”he said.
How does security benefit?
On this issue, Duque pointed out that “many times we have found that there are migrants who end up participating in some crime networks, when they are captured the information is not available. The fact of being regularized implies that they have to be clearly subject to all the laws in our country and that in case of violating them they will have an effective sanction ”.
Migración Colombia will be the entity in charge of implementing the Temporary Protection Statute for Venezuelan migrants announced by the President of Colombia Iván Duque. Photo Colprensa.
How do working conditions improve in Colombia?
It is no secret to anyone that informality rates in the country are on the rise and that much of it is due to Venezuelan migration. In this sense, the Colombian president pointed out that “people who are irregular in Colombian territory get informal jobs with lower salaries than what would be paid to a Colombian in a formal way and this of course distorts the country’s labor market ”.
With the arrival of regularization, he added, employers must hire them under the same conditions with which a Colombian citizen is hired, which in turn ends up balancing the labor balance and guarantees access to the contributory regime, or subsidized if it is the case.
Thus, said Espinosa, “this abusive competition where Sometimes they hire a migrant pretending to help him with a low value that robs a Colombian of the opportunity and deteriorates the labor base. With this new mechanism, everyone is welcome to the security system, to contribution, to solidarity, they compete on equal terms ”.
What about the vote?
Along with the decree, criticisms of Colombian politicians such as Senator Gustavo Bolívar emerged on Twitter, who assured that “As elections are coming, Duque offers them nationality.”
In this regard, the president himself replied that what is really being sought is to put an end “to a fraudulent practice where people appear to collect money from migrants to get a fraudulent identity card and then try to induce them electorally in view of the elections next year ”.
Thus, the border manager explained that the statute does not give the right to vote, since its objective is to regularize Venezuelan migrants, but not to grant them a Colombian residence under the conditions that the visas currently have.
Ben Oakley is the guy you can really trust when it comes to Mainstream News. Whether it is something happening at the Wall Street of New York City or inside the White House in Washington, D.C., no one can cover mainstream news like Ben. Get a daily dose of Trustworthy News by Ben Oakley, only at Globe Live Media.