Towards New Models for Welcoming Venezuelans in Latin America: Regularization and Protection Mechanisms
The Venezuelan exodus is impacting Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) at a magnitude and speed never seen before. Since 2015, over 6 million people have left Venezuela, making it the second largest migration crisis in the world. Colombia has received the highest number of migrants and refugees, welcoming more than 1.8 million Venezuelans. Peru is the first destination for those who need international protection and the second country with the highest number of asylum requests, with over 1 million Venezuelans, followed by Ecuador and Chile. Since 2021, the migration of Venezuelan refugees and migrants to Central and North America has increased considerably. The U.S. Customs and Border protection (CBP) reported in January 2022 an increase by 76 times of Venezuelan citizens through the U.S.-Mexico border compared to January 2021.
The regularization of migration and the recognition of refugee status are central elements of the integration of refugees and migrants into their host countries. Having the necessary documentation is essential to have access to services and the formal job market and increase their contribution to the economics and societies of the countries receiving them. However, regularization and granting international protection remain a serious challenge. Some LAC countries have adapted their regulatory measures to implement temporary regularization programs and create special protection mechanisms, while others have imposed visa requirements to enter the country. In July 2021, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Migration Office of Peru launched the humanitarian residence permit for asylum-seekers to resolve the backlog of asylum-seekers applications In March 2021, the Government of Colombia approved an innovative solution for the crisis of Venezuelan migrants and refugees: the Temporary Statute of Protection. The Dominican Republic government also approved a resolution in January 2021 that allows access to a migratory status to Venezuelans under the Migration Normalization Plan. On the other hand, neighboring countries like Costa Rica and Mexico have Mexico’s migratory policy towards Venezuelans recently shifted towards a more restrictive approach: since January 2021 Mexico imposed a visa requirement to Venezuelans, which makes it extremely difficult to legally migrate to and through Mexico. From a multi-disciplinary perspective, this side event will discuss the experience with the implementation of these mechanisms, and the impact on the socioeconomic integration of migrants, refugees andasylum seekers. It also aims to highlight the importance of regularization measures adopted in the region with a view to guaranteeing the human rights of migrants, promoting their social integration, combating xenophobia and discrimination, and complying with the objectives of the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration. The first part of the event aims at showing the best practices on regularization programmes and highlighting challenges and expectations regarding migration regularization in Colombia, Peru and the Dominican Republic The second part will provide information about the impact of humanitarian visas on migration flows in Latin America and the Caribbean.