Identity and affiliation to avoid violations of children and adolescents who enter Chile through unauthorized steps

At the end of last September, the UN published a report warning that one in three migrants entering Chile through Colchane corresponds to a child or adolescent (NNA) and that 93.6% come from Venezuela.

The study also reveals that in June 2022, out of a total of 266 migrants who entered the country, 40.2% responded to the NNA; while in July, out of a total of 85 identified persons, this percentage increased to 41.2%.

According to the document, of the total number of children who entered Chile between June and July, 76.6% did so in the company of their mothers, 14.8% with their fathers and 7.8% accompanied by another responsible adult, while seven entered alone, without company. In terms of age, 47.1% were between 4 and 10 years old, and 29% were between 0 and 3 years old.

As this border reality seems to be increasing, Chile’s Migration and Human Rights are joining forces to protect and defend the rights of those NNAs who, regardless of their immigration status, have the right to remain regularly in the country, just for the fact that it is under the age of 18, regardless of the fact that he entered through unauthorized steps.

In this sense, the new Law on Immigration and Foreigners, in its Article 4, obliges the state to adopt all kinds of measures to guarantee the full exercise and enjoyment of all rights guaranteed in the political constitution and in international treaties for children and adolescents. (such as the right to their identity, healthcare and education, among others) regardless of their immigration status, that of their parents or that of people in their care, in order to ensure that their best interests are protected. This same norm is harsh in explaining that children and adolescents are not subject to any kind of migration sanction, such as fines, transfers or expulsion.

In relation to the above and with the aim of speeding up the legalization of the migration of migrant children and adolescents, on September 12 the National Migration Service (SERMIG) activated a new visa application category on its digital procedures platform, allowing to request a temporary residence permit for children and adolescents who entered Chile through unauthorized transit.

Although this effort will facilitate the exercise and enjoyment of the rights, on equal terms, of migrant children, in Aguirre and Green we believe it is essential to emphasize that the mere authorization of this visa is not sufficient to comply with the State’s obligation for adoption “all measures” leading to this goal, as required by law. In fact, the adoption of this measure is not accompanied by any information or advertising actions to guide people on how to regulate children and adolescents, not meeting the needs of complete, timely and effective information, which are required with greater intensity against special protection groups.

We must bear in mind that the majority of children who enter the country through unregulated border crossings do not have identity documents or a legalized or apostilled birth certificate. However, in order to claim regulated regulation, SERMIG requires that they be present.

What happens to those who have no way to prove their identity and belonging because in their countries of origin it is not possible to obtain these documents or it costs too much? In some cases, their lives will continue to be at serious risk because they are exposed to child trafficking, human trafficking, criminal networks or the inability to reunite their family. In most of them, they will be sentenced to indefinite irregular migration with all the negative consequences that come with it. Requiring exclusionary or impossible requirements for certain groups that require increased protection generates differential impacts that could have a discriminatory effect.

Therefore, the administrative progress presented by SERMIG is not sufficient. The state must guarantee the process of legalization of migrant children and for this it is essential to have a policy that allows the intervention of the entire state apparatus against any of the children who are in Chile without documents that prove their identity and/or their belonging. encouraging the carrying out of determination procedures that include DNA tests both for them and for adults accompanying them to allow their effective migration regulation.

It is also urgent for the Chilean State, as ordered in the last paragraph of Article 28 of Law 21,325, to strengthen and coordinate its actions with countries such as Venezuela, Colombia and Haiti, so that they provide it with the information on identity and affiliation necessary to carry out of an NNA migration regulation process that is flexible, safe and efficient.

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  • The content expressed in this opinion column is solely the responsibility of its author and does not necessarily reflect the editorial line or position of The counter.

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