MIGRATION NATIONAL Presidential Elections

Candidates criticize government response to immigration crisis

SANTIAGO – Senator and presidential candidate Yasna Provoste accused the Piñera administration of not taking the necessary actions to deal with the immigration crisis, in the wake of last weekend’s demonstrations. Candidates Gabriel Boric and José Antonio Kast also weighed in, with Boric calling for an orderly migration and Kast asking that the borders be closed.

Since last weekend’s demonstrations in Iquique, several presidential hopefuls have criticized President Sebastian Piñera’s administration for its handling of the immigration crisis.

Yasna Provoste spoke of the “undignifying and inhumane conditions” in the north as a result of the government’s “abandonment” of the situation at the border and the  “lack of harmony.” The center-left candidate wanted to make clear that “we [Unidad Constituyente] will do what this government said it would do and has not done.” In what her manifesto calls “the connectivity of the nation,” she stressed the need to restructure the role of the armed forces so that they do not ostracize migrants, especially in the north. 

In a similar stance, Gabriel Boric of Apruebo Dignidad, stated that “the responsibility of the migratory crisis that we are experiencing in this country lies with bad government.”  Boric called for a serious and responsible organization of migration as mentioned in his proposed program. Referring to the demonstrations in Iquique he added that “there should not be any campaigns or drastic actions regarding the matter that affects thousands of people.” Boric’s program focuses on safeguarding the human rights of migrants and refugees and ratifying and upholding international agreements.

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Chile Podemos Más’s Sebastian Sichel cited his own plan for a “continued organization process for the migratory crisis and reinforcement of border control” by the state. “This would stimulate/encourage respect and tolerance within our society.”

Agreeing with his counterparts that fault lies with the government, José Antonio Kast took an opposing stance and urged Chile’s borders be closed. The Republican Party candidate went on to say that the migratory crisis has been “poorly dealt with by local, political, and national authorities.” Should it win, the Republican Party would seek to tighten controls and close the borders to allow time to implement new immigration rules and procedures.

The Republican program promises to uphold the human rights of all Chileans and others entering the nation by blocking the routes often taken by migrants to major border cities such as Arica, Iquique, and Antofagasta. Another measure might be to identify, investigate, and punish non-governmental organizations that help illegal immigrants and frustrate their repatriation to their home countries. 

In the meantime, the New Social Pact government envisions both a reinforced border patrol and accommodations for those immigrating to Chile.


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