IQUIQUE – The court of appeals has voided the deportation orders issued by the Tarapacá regional government on Feb. 8. The court determined that the orders lacked a previous investigation, which violated constitutional rights. However, only five of the 52 immigrants who are the subject of the voided orders remain in Chile; the others have already been deported.
The Chilean government’s recent response to the migrant crisis in the Tarapacá region is facing a new legal obstacle after a recent decision by Iquique’s court of appeals. The Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) had filed petitions for writs of habeas corpus for 52 Venezuelan citizens on the grounds that the plaintiffs were denied their right of defense prior to their deportation, and, on Feb. 18, the appellate court agreed, Cooperativa reported.
The appellate court determined that “it is not for the defendant, as administrative authority, to impose a sanction of such grave character without the required legal ground.” The outcome also means that the 47 deportees who were actually sent to Venezuela pursuant to the challenged deportation orders will not be barred from reentering Chile in the future.
Despite the court’s decision, Tarapacá governor Miguel Ángel Quezada defended the government’s procedure: “the cause for deportation was due to entering the country illegally and, as such, we believe that we are adequately following the process and we obviously have to insist that ultimately they reported themselves for crossing the border through an unauthorized border point.”
It is unclear whether the government will take the matter to the Supreme Court.
Not the First Time
Cooperativa reported that the court of appeals of Concepción stopped deportation proceedings for a Dominican citizen on Feb. 16, 2021, after the Biobío regional government issued a deportation notice for illegally entering Chile in 2020.
JRS representative Macarena Rodríguez told Cooperativa “they [the government] are the authority, they are the first ones to guarantee and respect people’s fundamental rights, so a political objective, the idea to make a very high-profile event out of this situation, with authorities travelling to the north and everything, cannot overrun people’s rights.”