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Migration Policy Institute Podcasts

MPI is a nonprofit, nonpartisan think tank dedicated to the study of the movement of people worldwide.

Creative Policy Responses in Latin America to the Venezuelan Migration Crisis

Posted by Migration Policy Institute on February 4th, 2019

Fleeing a rapidly collapsing economy, severe food and medical shortages, and political strife, more than 3 million Venezuelans are living outside of their country, making this one of the largest and fastest outflows anywhere in the world. Approximately 80 percent of these migrants and refugees have settled in Latin America. While a few countries in the region have immigration systems built to manage movement on this scale, most have improvised to create legal frameworks in an effort to maintain an open door. 

With no end in sight to the crisis that has spurred this movement, and projections that as many as 5.4 million Venezuelans may be living abroad by the end of 2019, governments in Latin America now face the challenge of transitioning from ad hoc responses to long-term planning for this population while also dealing with the continued strain of so many arrivals in such a short period. 

This event features the release of an MPI-OAS Department of Social Inclusion report, "Creativity amid Crisis: Legal Pathways for Venezuelan Migrants in Latin America". Report authors Andrew Selee and Jessica Bolter from MPI and Miryam Hazan and Betilde Muñoz-Pogossian from the Organization of American States, discussed findings from the report shedding light on where Venezuelan migrants have settled; the creative responses and legal pathways to residence and integration that countries in the region have provided; what national and international legal frameworks apply to this population; and the challenges and opportunities host countries are facing related to admission, legal status, public services, and planning for the long-term integration of Venezuelans. They were joined by MPI fellow and former International Organization for Migration in Colombia official Diego Chaves, and Center for Justice and International Law Program Director Francisco Quintana, joined the authors in a discussion of how the Colombian government is handling the influx of Venezuelans, the dangers the Venezuelan migrants face in their journey, the growing backlash in some countries and steps needed to address this, asylum access, and other issues identified as critical to address by civil society groups.

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