Migration Policy Institute
Creative Policy Responses in Latin America to the Venezuelan Migration Crisis
Betilde Muñoz-Pogossian, Director, Department of Social Inclusion, Organization of American States (OAS)
Diego Chaves, former United Nations Liaison Officer and Senior Monitor, International Organization for Migration (IOM) in Colombia
Francisco Quintana, Program Director for the Andean, North America, and Caribbean Region, Center for Justice and International Law
Jessica Bolter, Research Assistant, Migration Policy Institute
Miryam Hazan, Migration Specialist, OAS
Andrew Selee, President, MPI
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.
At this release discussion of an MPI-OAS Department of Social Inclusion report, researchers presented findings from their study, Creativity amid Crisis: Legal Pathways for Venezuelan Migrants in Latin America, and on-the-ground fieldwork 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.
Experts also discussed what lessons other countries around the world might take away from the efforts Latin American governments have taken to ensure that the influx of Venezuelans benefit receiving societies and how this could be a moment in which Latin America takes a leap forward in migration policy innovation.