The role of community leaders in the regularization process of Venezuelan migrants in Colombia
In the last decade, more than 6 million Venezuelans have left their country. Around 1.85 million are currently in Colombia (GIFMM, 2021). The challenges to socioeconomically integrating this population into the country are innumerable. On February 8, 2021, the Colombian government decided to regularize their immigration status in Colombia and characterize them through the Estatuto Temporal de Protección para Venezolanos (ETPV).
According to Migración Colombia data, in less than a year, more than 1.74 million Venezuelan migrants in Colombia completed the pre-registration process (RUMV) and more than one million completed the biometric registration, necessary steps for the regularization process. The scale and speed of this regularization process are unique in the world, particularly considering that certain social groups, such as irregular migrants, are difficult to reach and characterize. For example, a study conducted by researchers at Yale University found that the population of undocumented migrants living in the United States may be double what is estimated in the decade census (Fazel-Zarandi et al., 2018).
In Colombia, some of the main barriers to characterizing and regularizing the Venezuelan migrant population have been continuous geographic mobility, high levels of socioeconomic vulnerability, precarious access to the Internet and mobile devices, mistrust of the institutions in charge of the process of regularization, fear of arrest or deportation, among others. This policy note highlights the role of community leaders and the means they used in the regularization process.