Chile Takes an Anti-Immigrant Turn With ‘Humanitarian Flights’

Chile Takes an Anti-Immigrant Turn With ‘Humanitarian Flights’
A migrant walks past anti-immigration posters that read in Spanish “No more illegal immigration. Solidarity begins at home,” Santiago, Chile, Aug. 20, 2017 (AP photo by Esteban Felix).

Editor’s Note: This article is part of an ongoing series on immigration and integration policy around the world.

The Chilean government began sending Haitian immigrants back to Haiti this month under President Sebastian Pinera’s new “humanitarian repatriation program.” Two planeloads of Haitians have flown out so far under the policy, which provides a free ticket home for any Haitian immigrant who agrees not to return to Chile for nine years. According to Cristián Doña-Reveco, director of the office of Latino/Latin-American studies at the University of Nebraska Omaha, Pinera is making a populist appeal to rising anti-immigrant sentiment in Chile. In an interview with WPR, he explains how the administration is rationalizing the so-called humanitarian flights and why this policy marks a departure from Chile’s generally accommodating stance toward immigrants.

World Politics Review: What is the Pinera administration’s rationale for returning foreign-born residents of Chile to their home countries on “humanitarian flights,” and how does this illustrate the harsh reality facing many migrants and refugees there?

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