RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – The Minister of the Interior, Rodrigo Delgado, announced the resumption of the expulsion flights, after having carried out four between February and August of this year, in which 547 people were deported, while during 2020 1,365 migrants were expelled.
The last deportation flight carried out by the government was last August, after the UN expressed its concern about this measure, and Chilean courts stopped these expulsions after admitting dozens of appeals sponsored by organizations that criticize them because, in their opinion, they violate the rights of migrants.
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“We have taken note of the recommendations, we have reviewed our processes, we are respectful of the rulings, but in that context, during the next few weeks, we will resume the expulsions,” said Delgado, in statements to the press in Santiago.
The announcement also comes amid a growing increase in the entry of migrants through clandestine crossings on the border with Bolivia, in northern Chile, where 23,673 migrants have crossed in the first seven months of 2021, almost 7,000 more than in all of last year.
“Chile is today an attractive migratory destination for many (because of) the health situation, the vaccinations (against Covid-19), the economic situation, the need to employ people who, many times, are not being employed in different areas,” said the minister.
The Chilean town of Colchane, at an altitude of 3,650 meters, concentrates the most significant number of migrants crossing the inhospitable Altiplano, where local authorities claim that at the beginning of the year, it suffered a collapse due to the arrival of thousands of undocumented migrants and where at least 11 migrants have died due to the harsh climatic conditions of the area.
“In this, I want to be very clear, if one review the statistics while we were able to expel, we did well with the migratory flow on the border with Colchane. Unfortunately, when we had to stop expelling, clandestine entry increased,” explained Delgado.
In August alone, 331 foreigners, including 260 Venezuelans, arrived in Colchane. The rest are Bolivian, Peruvian, and Colombian nationals, the authorities said.
Venezuelan migrants, the largest foreign community in Chile with 455,000 people, headed the list of covert entries from January to July, with 17,914, higher than the 12,935 cases in 2020.