SANTIAGO – The government of Chilean President Sebastián Piñera has set itself a target of expelling 2,000 illegal migrants from the country by the end of the year.
“Effectively, by the end of the year, there will be around 2,000 expulsions from our country of foreigners who have committed crimes,” said government spokeswoman Cecilia Perez.
The expulsions, part of a migration plan that the billionaire president introduced to cope with the arrival of hundreds of thousands of migrants over the last four years, will prioritize foreigners with criminal records, as well as those who did not take up a government offer to regularize their situation.
People with criminal records will be expelled in the first stage of the expulsions. Next on the list are those serving prison time who face expulsion once they have purged their sentences, Perez said.
A third group will include all migrants who did not go through a regularization process the government began in April. So far, more than 140,000 migrants have received papers, according to the interior ministry.
“The doors are open to all those foreigners who come to contribute to our country, who want to have better opportunities in life. But not those who commit, or committed, crimes in their countries or who intend to come to commit a crime against us,” said Perez.
Earlier this year, Chile eased visa requirements for Venezuelans fleeing a political crisis while tightening rules for Haitians.
Chile hosts more than a million foreigners, with around 300,000 of that number thought to be living illegally in the copper-rich South American country.
Haiti, Venezuela and Colombia are the countries with the highest migration growth to Chile in the last four years.