BOGOTÁ, Colombia — President Iván Duque of Colombia introduced Monday that his authorities will present momentary authorized standing to the greater than 1.7 million Venezuelan migrants who’ve fled to Colombia lately, a far-reaching transfer that may enable the migrants to work legally and set up lives out of the shadows.
The choice was hailed by the top of the U.N. Refugee Company, Filippo Grandi, as “historic” and “an important humanitarian gesture” within the area in a long time.
The choice will enable Venezuelan migrants who register with the Colombian authorities to remain within the nation for 10 years.
Greater than half the 1.7 million Venezuelans within the nation don’t at present have authorized standing. Beneath the brand new measure, those that entered Colombia with out permission earlier than Jan. 31 are eligible for legalization. And those that have already got authorized standing will now be free, for no less than a decade, from having to reapply for permission to remain.
Venezuela, run by a socialist-inspired authorities for the final 20 years, has been in disaster since 2014, prompting a collapse that economists have referred to as the worst in decades outside of war. As meals, gasoline and medication have disappeared, and because the authorities of President Nicolás Maduro has changing into more and more repressive, about 5.4 million folks have left the nation, resulting in one of many largest migration crises on the planet.
A few third of Venezuelan migrants landed in neighboring Colombia.
In a speech on Monday, Mr. Duque, a conservative whose authorities is carefully aligned with the USA, characterised his determination in each humanitarian and sensible phrases.
He urged listeners to have compassion for migrants world wide. “Migration crises are by definition humanitarian crises,” he mentioned.
However he additionally pressured that the transfer would support the federal government in doing its job, by serving to officers determine folks in want, and by serving to them observe down anybody who violates the legislation.
“We’ve near 1,000,000 migrants who’re in our nation whose names we don’t know,” Mr. Duque mentioned, including: “We don’t know the place they’re, how previous they’re, what their socioeconomic situation is. And that could be a dangerous scenario. It’s a foul scenario as a result of it doesn’t enable us to have a transparent social coverage. It’s a foul scenario as a result of it doesn’t enable us to have a transparent safety coverage.”
The arrival of the practically two million Venezuelan migrants in a rustic of fifty million has stretched budgets and angered some Colombians, who view the newcomers as competitors for jobs and different providers. Mr. Duque’s announcement Monday is prone to exacerbate a few of that anger.
In his speech, he reiterated a name for extra world support to assist Colombia take care of the humanitarian disaster, which the Brookings Establishment has referred to as one of many most underfunded in trendy historical past.
On Monday, Yohany Gonzalez, 46, a Venezuelan immigrant initially from Caracas, referred to as the brand new Colombia coverage “the very best factor that would have occurred to me.”
Ms. Gonzalez crossed into Colombia on foot three years in the past, with two of her youngsters and a grandchild, and has not been capable of finding work as a result of she has no authorized standing, she mentioned. She spends her time on the street, attempting to promote trash luggage and candies.
“I don’t need to proceed on the street, begging,” she mentioned. “I need an actual job.”
Sofía Villamil contributed reporting.