Irregular immigration in Colombia?

Not only Venezuelans move to this country, as citizens from Asia and Africa cross the border with Venezuela and Ecuador to reach the coffee nation

Irregular immigration in Colombia?

In recent months, it has been common to hear about the resurgence of Venezuela's political and economic situation. Hundreds of people decided to cross the border with Colombia to look for a better future, leaving behind families, jobs, and businesses. However, this migratory flow has not been the only one in the Colombian territory. People from Syria, Eritrea, Bangladesh, and Sierra Leone have arrived to this Latin American country since 2013.

Leer en español: ¿Inmigración irregular en Colombia?

The hard road of immigrants: from Colombia to the United States

The main reason why these people, coming from Asia and Africa, come to Colombia is to make a transitory flow having as the last destination the United States or Canada. However, the journey is not easy; many arrive in Ecuadorian territory to cross the border with Colombia on foot through the jungle, then cross that country until they reach the Darién stop, the jungle that unites Colombia with Panama.

This journey is made by the famous "coyotes", unscrupulous people who cheat the migrants by collecting extraordinary sums of money and most of the time they do not keep their word. This is how the Darién Gap has become the compulsory home of many immigrants from the countries mentioned.

The reasons why these people flee their countries are very varied, but, the common denominator is wars. An example of this is Eritrea. Eritrea is an African country that lies in the Horn of Africa between Sudan and Ethiopia.

The news center of the United Nations highlights that in this African country, human rights are systematically violated, people are forced to perform forced labor, extrajudicial executions are committed, and there is imprisonment of opponents of the regime. In fact, Eritrea is one of the countries that still performs trades with slaves, a practice that was believed to have ended at the time of the colony.

Different international migrations in Colombia

One of the main problems with irregular migration is language. The Colombian authorities are not prepared to communicate in Tigriña, Bengali, Urdu, or Hindu. English is the only communication option; however, many migrants do not speak it or speak a different English dialect.

For example, this year 18 Bengalis were found in the territory of Cali, their final route was the United States and a coyote was transporting them for around 7,000 thousand dollars. The Colombian authorities had problems when communicating with these people from Bangladesh.

These migrants were not the only ones to be deceived, last year an Iraqi family paid about $ 27,000 dollars to get to the port of Miami, however, they were scammed and ended up living in the Ahlul Bayt Islamic Cultural House in Bogotá, as El Espectador reports.

In addition, in Colombia it is possible to find transient immigrants from Cuba who for one reason or another have been "stranded" in the jungles or Colombian cities. Their last destination was the United States and their departure was due to the election of Donald Trump as president of this country. The US president threatened to end the "wet-dry feet" law, which allows any Cuban to be a US citizen if he/she touches American territory.

However, not all migrants arrive by obligation, some migrants have relatives who arrived in Colombia fleeing from the Ottoman Empire and that is the main reason to migrate to this country. Migration Colombia reported in 2017 about 33 Syrians who asked for asylum in this nation.

Will this situation end?

In a world so convulsed with wars, refugees, and deaths, the answer seems to be negative. Even immigrants seek refuge in countries at war, as is the case of the Rohinyas in Bangladesh.

It is a fact that the geostrategic position of Colombia will always be well seen by immigrants to make their transit to the United States. Colombia must learn from its French or Canadian counterparts to regularize immigration from other countries; for example, some options that the Colombian government must adopt more efficiently are temporary visas, permanent visas, and deportations.

Not all immigrants who arrive in Colombia do so transiently to reach other destinations. In the country, there are people known for their foreign ancestry, some of them are: Shakira daughter of Lebanese immigrants, the Char family with Syrian ancestry (Alejandro Char is mayor of Barranquilla), the Gossaín family of Syrian descent and Antanas Mockus Šivickas son of Lithuanians parents who came to Colombia avoiding the communist regime.


Latin American Post | Miguel Díaz
Translated from “ ¿Inmigración irregular en Colombia?”