SANTIAGO – Several hundred people turned out Sunday in downtown Santiago to protest for legal reform recognizing immigration as a basic right.
“The demonstration is not only directed at the immigrant community but also at all Chileans so that they can join forces against the violations of human rights immigrants suffer on a daily basis,” said the organizers of the march, which was called by the National Immigrants Coordinator, in a statement.
In particular, they added, their protest was staged to oppose the proposals that have emerged in recent weeks from the political right seeking to impose stricter regulations on the arrival of foreigners, whom conservatives associate with an increase in crime and other social problems.
According to the Coordinator, which represents organizations of immigrants from many countries, the promoters of those proposals have “encouraged hatred and promoted serious tensions, the result of which can be violent, as has already occurred in other situations.”
Organizers are also seeking to get authorities to listen to the immigrant communities, which in Chile comprise about half a million people or 3 percent of the population, and have the government make it a priority to quickly sent an immigration reform package to the legislature.
That reform, the Coordinator said, must recognize immigration “as a basic right, guarantee real equality between citizens and foreigners and recognize the citizenship of resident foreigners.”
The peaceful demonstrators marched through several streets in downtown Santiago, including in front of La Moneda Palace, the seat of the executive branch, where protesters placed a floral offering before the monument to late President Salvador Allende.