Why are Haitians leaving Chile?

Thousands of Haitian immigrants trapped in a vicious circle in Chile, without an identity card and without work, are leaving the South American country, exhausted from the immigration laws that seem to be harsher on them.

Defeated by the system, many left the country and some made it to the border city of Del Rio, Texas, where they camped with thousands of their compatriots in an attempt to enter the United States. Some succeeded, but the tens of thousands who remained in Chile and who lack Chilean documents face a difficult situation.

HOW MANY HAITIANS ARE THERE IN CHILE?

Officially there are 1.5 million immigrants, including some 180,000 Haitians, of whom “almost 70,000 reside in Chile permanently,” according to the undersecretary of the Interior, Juan Francisco Galli, who is responsible for migration issues.

To the 110,000 without papers, there are those who entered through unauthorized steps and those who wait for the Department of Immigration and Migration of Chile to grant them an identity card, a document required for almost any procedure.

If Haitians do not regularize their situation, they could be expelled. So far this year more than half a thousand immigrants of various nationalities have been deported aboard specially hired commercial flights.

WHAT IS THE LEGAL SITUATION OF HAITIAN IMMIGRANTS IN CHILE?

Thousands had the temporary Chilean identity card they obtained in the country expired and the Department of Immigration and Migration does not renew it if they do not show a labor contract. However, they cannot get a job without a valid license. Without an ID, there is no temporary visa.

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Companies that hire undocumented migrants must pay a fine in money if they are discovered, while some let them work, but for incomes below the minimum wage, which is around $ 420.

“It is a vicious circle because what does a migrant do who is irregular or has run out of visa? Some are not having their visas renewed and the process is very extensive, “academic Adriana Palomera, Coordinator of the Center for Migration Studies at the University of Santiago de Chile, told The Associated Press.

WHAT ARE THE REQUIREMENTS THAT HAITIAN IMMIGRANTS MUST COMPLY IN CHILE?

At the beginning of his second term, in 2018, the center-right president Sebastián Piñera signed a decree that obliges Haitians to obtain a tourist visa at the Chilean consulate in Port-au-Prince. A year later, he imposed a similar measure on Venezuelans.

The bulk of the immigrants from Haiti arrived between 2014 and 2017, during the government of former socialist president Michelle Bachelet, a time when their passport was enough to obtain a tourist visa, which they later exchanged for a work visa after obtaining a job.

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