Presidential Elections

The presidential candidates’ immigration policies

The race to La Moneda continues to intensify with presidential candidates updating their policies and programs to gain support. Chile’s immigration crisis has been highlighted by international organizations. Here is a look at what the candidates are proposing for immigration policies.

This year, Chile has seen a rise in anti-immigration marches with tensions rising between immigrants and locals across the northern border. The grave situation in places such as Arica and Iquique have made international news and raised concerns among many international organizations.

At the height of the violent demonstrations Iquique, Gabriel Boric and José Antonio Kast were amongst a handful of candidates who criticized the Piñera administration for its response to the immigration crisis. Today, those same two candidates are battling to reach La Moneda. What do they have to offer in terms of immigration policy?

Gabriel Boric

Boric’s immigration policies are inspired by the Marrakech Migration Treaty. His program focuses on safeguarding the human rights of migrants and refugees by ratifying some of the country’s current immigration laws so that they are in line with international agreements.

During this year’s demonstrations, the Apruebo Dignidad candidate called for “a serious and responsible organization” of migration. As detailed in his program, this would include the installation of humanitarian residences for those affected by socio-political issues. These residences will prioritize families affected by immigration, natural disasters, and political issues.

Under a Boric administration, those who have committed serious crimes or have a criminal record will not be able to stay in Chile. Together with enforcing the correct implementation of the National Migration Service, the presidential contender hopes to reduce organized crime throughout the country, particularly along the border, and create sustainable migration into the country.

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José Antonio Kast

Earlier this year, the presidential hopeful called out the government for how it “poorly dealt” with the migration issue. Kast’s program promises to uphold the human rights of all Chileans and other foreign nationals entering the nation by tightening security controls at the affected entry points. His new program presented this morning calls for the increased presence of military personnel in Colchane to capture immigrants.

Should Kast win, his administration would seek to install new border controls along routes often taken by migrants to major border cities such as Colchane, Iquique, and Antofagasta. Additionally, a military camp and preventative migratory forces will also be introduced in border cities in order to deter immigrants from entering the country through the Chilean-Bolivian border.

Notably, Kast’s program also mentions the creation of a special unit similar to the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) which hunts down illegal immigrants across the nation, and a camp to prepare illegal immigrants for deportation. His “ditches” on the border, widely criticized during his campaign, still form part of his political program.

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