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Colombia Makes ‘Historic’ Determination to Grant Authorized Standing to 1.7 Million Venezuelan Migrants

BOGOTÁ, Colombia — President Iván Duque of Colombia introduced Monday that his authorities will present non permanent authorized standing to the greater than 1.7 million Venezuelan migrants who’ve fled to Colombia lately, a far-reaching transfer that may permit the migrants to work legally and set up lives out of the shadows.

The choice was hailed by the top of the U.N. Refugee Company, Filippo Grandi, as “historic” and “an important humanitarian gesture” within the area in many years.

The choice will permit Venezuelan migrants who register with the Colombian authorities to remain within the nation for 10 years.

Greater than half the 1.7 million Venezuelans within the nation don’t presently have authorized standing. Beneath the brand new measure, those that entered Colombia with out permission earlier than Jan. 31 are eligible for legalization. And those that have already got authorized standing will now be free, for a minimum of a decade, from having to reapply for permission to remain.

Venezuela, run by a socialist-inspired authorities for the final twenty years, has been in disaster since 2014, prompting a collapse that economists have known as the worst in many years exterior of conflict. As meals, gasoline and drugs have disappeared, and because the authorities of President Nicolás Maduro has turning into more and more repressive, about 5.four million individuals have left the nation, resulting in one of many largest migration crises on this planet.

A couple of third of Venezuelan migrants landed in neighboring Colombia.

In a speech on Monday, Mr. Duque, a conservative whose authorities is intently aligned with america, characterised his resolution in each humanitarian and sensible phrases.

He urged listeners to have compassion for migrants world wide. “Migration crises are by definition humanitarian crises,” he mentioned.

However he additionally pressured that the transfer would help the federal government in doing its job, by serving to officers determine individuals in want, and by serving to them observe down anybody who violates the legislation.

“We’ve got near one million migrants who’re in our nation whose names we don’t know,” Mr. Duque mentioned, including: “We don’t know the place they’re, how outdated they’re, what their socioeconomic situation is. And that may be a dangerous state of affairs. It’s a nasty state of affairs as a result of it doesn’t permit us to have a transparent social coverage. It’s a nasty state of affairs as a result of it doesn’t permit us to have a transparent safety coverage.”

The arrival of the almost two million Venezuelan migrants in a rustic of 50 million has stretched budgets and angered some Colombians, who view the newcomers as competitors for jobs and different companies. Mr. Duque’s announcement Monday is more likely to exacerbate a few of that anger.

In his speech, he reiterated a name for extra world help to assist Colombia cope with the humanitarian disaster, which the Brookings Establishment has known as one of many most underfunded in trendy historical past.

On Monday, Yohany Gonzalez, 46, a Venezuelan immigrant initially from Caracas, known as the brand new Colombia coverage “the very best factor that might have occurred to me.”

Ms. Gonzalez crossed into Colombia on foot three years in the past, with two of her youngsters and a grandchild, and has not been capable of finding work as a result of she has no authorized standing, she mentioned. She spends her time on the street, making an attempt to promote trash luggage and candies.

“I don’t need to proceed on the street, begging,” she mentioned. “I would like an actual job.”

Sofía Villamil contributed reporting.

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