Foreigners who have entered Chile illegally have 180 days, which started April 20, to leave the country or risk deportation, the Chilean government announced Tuesday.
The edict came as a result of a new immigration law enacted by Chile’s self-proclaimed “center-right” President Sebastián Piñera on April 11 that imposes greater border regulations on Chile and streamlines the country’s deportations.
“Besides establishing a three-month deadline for illegal migrants to leave the country, the law creates a new system regarding the issuance of visas and tightens the regularization process,” the socialist outlet Telesur reported on April 12.
“Although Parliament passed the law in December 2020, a coalition of left-wing parties filed an injunction before the Constitutional Court (CC) to repeal several articles,” Telesur noted.
The order for illegal aliens to leave Chile starting Tuesday is believed to largely target Venezuelan migrants, about 458,000 of whom currently reside in the country, according to the latest figures from the Chilean Department of Immigration and Migration published in December 2019.
“They will only be able to process their re-entry at the Chilean consulate abroad,” Chilean Minister of the Interior and Public Security Rodrigo Delgado wrote in a statement posted to Twitter on April 20.
This condition places Venezuelan immigrants currently residing in Chile in a difficult position, as the Chilean consulate in Caracas, Venezuela’s capital, suspended activities on March 16, 2020, because of the then-emerging Chinese coronavirus pandemic.
“Later, on November 11, 2020, the Chilean Foreign Ministry closed the process of the democratic responsibility visa to Venezuelans, alleging problems due to the pandemic, without respecting the cases of those who had approved visas, pending [a final] stamp or … appointment,” the independent Venezuelan news site El Pitazo recalled on April 20. “It is estimated that the suspension of the process affected approximately 88,000 Venezuelans.”
Chile had previously offered democratic responsibility visas to Venezuelans seeking refuge in Chile from their home country’s socialist political crisis, fueled by economic failure under Venezuelan dictator Nicolás Maduro’s socialist regime. The visas had allowed Venezuelans to stay in Chile for one year, with a possible 12-month extension.
Chile expelled 100 Venezuelan and Colombian migrants from the country in mid-February in what Delgado described as the start of a wider government effort to crack down on a flood of illegal immigration along Chile’s northern Andes mountain border. The government’s decision came shortly after two migrants died of exposure in early February after entering Chile illegally from Bolivia through a highland pass in the Andes mountains.