Potholes in the process of regularization and integration of migrants
Photograph taken during a day of delivery of documents to the Venezuelan migrant population.
Photo: GUSTAVO TORRIJOS – GUSTAVO TORRIJOS
Two weeks ago, Migration Colombia announced the comprehensive plan “You are still on time”, aimed at the Venezuelan population that is in the process of regularization in Colombia through the Temporary Protection Statute for Venezuelan Migrants (ETPV). A policy promoted in the Duque administration, which is far-reaching in terms of protection of human rights and integration and which aspires to benefit, at least, the 2.5 million migrants who have opted for this path of regularization.
The temporary status has been one of the most ambitious national policies to protect the vulnerable migrant population. Among the 2,508,242 migrants who are currently in the Single Registry of Venezuelan Migrants of the ETPV, 1,611,317 already have the Permit for Temporary Protection, a figure that indicates the great acceptance that this measure has had among the migrant population. In addition, it is an instrument that has begun to yield positive results in access to health, education, and formal work.
Despite the advances, the implementation process has presented major flaws. According to statements by the current director of Colombian Migration, Fernando García, in a recent day of accountability before the Second Commission of the Chamber and Senate in the Congress of the Republic, during the ETPV registration process in 2021, the entity’s website migratory collapsed due to the great demand for the service. A situation that, in addition to hindering the registration process of hundreds of thousands of migrants, led to the loss of information for nearly 600,000 people who are still waiting for a response from the State.
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The seriousness of this situation falls entirely on a population that, despite having begun the identification and regularization process for more than a year and a half, continues in Colombia with an irregular migratory status, working informally and in conditions that even violate your fundamental rights; and others have surely been forced to return to Venezuela in adverse circumstances or seek other destinations through illegal and highly dangerous routes such as the Darién Gap.
To these 600,000 made up, in large proportion, of Venezuelan and Colombian-Venezuelan families, is added an uncertain number of unidentified migrants who, complying with the conditions to benefit from the ETPV, did not subscribe for being unaware of this public policy, for not having with adequate digital means or because the repeated failures presented by the Colombian Migration platform discouraged the registration of these applicants.
The “You are still on time” strategy recently promoted by Migración Colombia shows, to a certain extent, the intention of the current government to give continuity to the ETPV and seeks the purpose of ordering and correcting the shortcomings and errors that have arisen in the processes of registration, issuance and delivery of the Permit for Temporary Protection (PPT), an identity document that grants regular immigration status for ten years to those who were irregularly in the country before January 31, 2021 or were beneficiaries of the old Special Permit Permanence (PEP); also to minors who enter until May 2031 and to the Venezuelan population that formally enters Colombian territory and intends to stay.
The “You’re still on time” plan was publicized on February 28 through facebook live and it is made up of four strategies that will depend mainly on the response capacity of the migrant population.
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The first one is “Valid”, which seeks to identify and locate people who are part of the Single Registry of Venezuelan Migrants and who have not received the Permit for Temporary Protection. The validation period was only ten days and expired on March 10, which may mean that a significant number of migrants have not been able to demonstrate.
The second strategy is “Download”, enabled from January 1 to April 30, 2023. It allows those who started the regularization process and have had difficulties accessing the PPT to download a PPT Processing Certificate issued by Colombian Migration. Although this certificate was created to facilitate access to services and rights and some entities have adopted it through administrative circulars, in reality it does not enjoy the necessary institutional recognition. This has generated a wave of complaints and criticism on social networks from the migrant population that has been waiting for a solution for more than a year.
The Ministry of Health and Social Protection even stated in mid-February that the PPT Processing Certificate is not included in the Health System as a valid identification document to make affiliations.
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The third strategy is called “Pick up” and will be available until April 12, 2023 for those who have not claimed the temporary protection permits that have been available for delivery for 90 days or more in one of the 12 regional offices of Migration Colombia. . The measure was promoted taking into account that, as of January 31 of this year, there were 118,032 PPT in this condition. Once this delivery period has been exceeded, the immigration authority will assume that the migrant has withdrawn from the process.
Although it is necessary to define the delivery terms of the PPT, a measure like this requires greater socialization through mass dissemination channels and consider that many migrants could move to different cities and municipalities in which they registered their application. This will necessitate the redistribution of the printed PPTs according to the current location of the migrants.
Finally, “Register” is the fourth strategy that will be enabled between April 1 and 30 for holders of a Special Permit to Stay and people with a refuge safe-conduct who did not register in the Single Registry of Migrants before April 28. May 2022. This is positive news that will result in greater coverage of the ETPV.
The review and standardization of the information collected in almost two years from the beginning of the implementation of the ETPV is an essential step that will imply hard institutional work, massive dissemination campaigns, strengthening the positioning strategies of the PPT and, despite the urgency of The measure will require a reasonable amount of time, greater than what has already been established by Colombian Migration, so that migrants can respond adequately and avoid a massive cancellation of regularization processes for those who are still in Colombian territory.
It is important that Colombian society, including those responsible for migration management at the national and local levels, become aware that the regularization of the migrant population in Colombia is necessary to counteract poverty and the levels of inequality and social exclusion in the country. The commitment to the socioeconomic and productive integration of migrants is not an act of generosity, nor is it a measure that competes with the well-being of Colombians. Much less when the migrant and returnee population with a vocation to stay in the country represents about 7.8% of the population in Colombia.
* Researcher of the Observatory of Venezuela of the Faculty of International, Political and Urban Studies of the Universidad del Rosario and of the Migratory Log in alliance with the Konrad Adenauer Foundation.
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