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Chile signs on to face, finger registry to curb illegal immigration

Chile signs on to face, finger registry to curb illegal immigration

Chile intends to build a biometrics registry of all foreign residents in conjunction with a committee to handle “the expulsion of irregular migrants.”

The South American country’s National Migration Service will operate the registry, according to analysis of a press briefing by Google’s Translate app.

According to reporting by South Atlantic news agency Merco Press, the country wants to curb illegal immigration from Venezuela via neighboring Peru.

Chile has seen an influx of Venezuelans, particularly after Venezuela’s economic collapse in 2016.

More than 110 Venezuelan migrants, who were looking to return home, were reportedly left stranded on Chile’s border with Peru in May, creating diplomatic tensions between the two nations.

Chile’s Interior Ministry is charged with the immediate implementation of 28 measures, including the creation of an “interinstitutional committee.”

The committee will expedite “administrative and judicial expulsions pending since 2013.”

According to the translated briefing, the country’s undersecretary of the interior, Manuel Monsalve, said “there will not be, as has happened in other governments, a general or massive regularization,” or standardized government-controlled immigration processes for irregular migrants.

However, Monsalve reportedly said, “It is not possible for the Chilean state to guarantee security if we do not have the identity of the people who are in the national territory.”

He added: “The registration policy will allow us to have the identity, fingerprints, face, name and biography of citizens who have entered irregularly and that is a measure that improves the country’s security.”

Chile’s decision has received international condemnation.

Amnesty International issued a statement saying, “Chile had failed to fulfill its obligation to protect people who have fled Venezuela to protect their lives.”

In addition, the human rights organization alleged that for “those people in need of international protection who manage to enter Chile, accessing refugee status or regularizing their migratory status is an obstacle course.”

There are said to be around 450,000 Venezuelan migrants, refugees and asylum seekers residing in Chile. 

Biometrics is an increasingly popular tool for trying to control immigration.

In 2022, the Caribbean nation of Trinidad and Tobago set aside a portion of a $5.8 billion (US$853M) annual budget for an improved fingerprint biometrics system to detect undocumented migrants.

In April, The United Kingdom’s Home Office awarded Entrust a two-year contract to supply tech for the digitization of immigration application processes. The government wants to be able to identify applicants by face biometrics.

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