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Right-Wing Rhetoric Fuels Immigration Debate in Chile

LADB Article ID: 80193
Category/Department: Chile
Date: 2017-01-27
By: Benjamin Witte-Lebhar

Of all the legal legacies Chile inherited from its 20th-century military dictatorship (1973-1990), none are perhaps more divorced from 21st-century realities than the country’s immigration system. On that, Chileans of all political stripes and sensibilities can agree. Most would concede that the Cold War-era legislation is ill suited for the current age of globalization, which has seen a growing number of foreigners––drawn by Chile’s political and economic stability and relatively high standard of living––make their way to Chile and establish residency there. But there is little consensus on how exactly the outdated rules and regulations should be reformed, or what other changes the country should make to accommodate the growing and increasingly diverse foreign-born population. As of November 2015, the total number of legally registered foreigners had risen to approximately 477,000, a 132% increase since 2002, according to the Departamento de Extranjería y Migración (Department for Foreign Issues and Migration, DEM). Nearly 36% of foreign residents hail from Peru. Another 13.3% are of Bolivian origin, and 11.4% come from Colombia. There has also been an influx recently of Haitian and Dominican immigrants.

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