February 10 Colombian President Ivan Duke announced on February 8 that he would carry out immigration policy reform to legalize the status of about 1 million undocumented Venezuelan immigrants in the country.
Duke reportedly announced that it would adopt a temporary easing policy for Venezuelan immigrants, granting about 1 million Venezuelan undocumented immigrants temporary protection status for 10 years, which allows them to apply for permanent residence in Colombia.
The policy reform will start with the registration of immigrants. All undocumented immigrants need to register their personal information, residence, economic situation, etc.
Duke said that the main purpose of this immigration policy reform is to expand the coverage of the coronavirus vaccination program.
In December 2020, Duke announced that he would not provide vaccinations for illegal immigrants, which caused some controversy.
After reconsideration, in order to avoid affecting the effectiveness of vaccination, while upholding humanitarian principles, Duke decided to enable undocumented immigrants to participate in the vaccination program by legalizing the status of undocumented immigrants.
In addition, Duke stressed that this move would also help to improve social security in Colombia.
After the legalization of status, Colombia will have the right to arrest and try some undocumented immigrants who have committed crimes.
The UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi, praised the reform initiative and called it “historical significance”.