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    The necessary immigration relief

    The visit to Colombia of the Secretary of Homeland Security of the United States, Alejandro Mayorkas, to work on issues related to migratory flows and promotion of regular visas, opens a new opportunity to advance on a subject of vital interest for relations between Colombia and USA.

    Within the framework of the comprehensive bilateral migration agenda, I recently requested the Government of the United States to grant the status of Deferred Forced Departure or DED (for its acronym in English) for the more than 200,000 Colombians who are currently without authorization in that country. country, living in deplorable conditions, under fear and exposed to being exploited. This instrument adds to the work the Petro-Marquez Government is advancing towards greater access to non-immigrant visas, the agile processing of tourist visas and its eventual elimination for Colombian citizens.

    The figure of the DED is a presidential power that is decreed through an executive order and establishes criteria to defer the repatriation of certain immigrants with irregular status with the possibility of temporarily accessing a series of benefits. In general, these include a temporary work permit, which is usually 18 months and can be extended over time, this extension is subject to US foreign policy decisions.

    This type of measure in conflict transition scenarios where there is a peace agreement, such as the Colombian case, already has precedents. In 2003, the Comprehensive Peace Agreement was signed in Liberia, beginning the transition process that led to free elections and the normalization of political conditions in that country in 2006. Taking into account the particularities of the transition to peace, the George W. Bush administration granted, in 2007, the DED to undocumented Liberian citizens in the United States, offering them the possibility of a dignified return to their country, contributing to the construction and consolidation of peace.

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    The precedent set by Liberia offers great possibilities of success for Colombia’s request and guaranteeing immigration relief through the DED to the Colombian irregular population in the United States is of mutual interest to advance the migration management agenda in the hemisphere.

    This request is also due to the fact that Colombia is implementing its policy of total peace and human rights, which seeks peaceful coexistence, the protection of the rights and freedoms of individuals and the offer of measures in favor of discriminated or marginalized groups, regardless from where they are. Similarly, this transitory measure seeks to set conditions for a dignified return by providing guarantees abroad.


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    The letter that has been sent to the Government of the United States, at the instruction of President Petro, is an invitation to implement the principle of co-responsibility among peoples and to provide means of protection for those Colombians living in the United States. This request, based on the National Development Plan of Colombia, seeks to connect Colombians abroad with the great transformations that this new administration is targeting.

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    Adhering to the interest shared with the United States to promote orderly, regular and safe migration, the Colombian Government is strengthening its institutional architecture model to achieve the full integration of the almost 2.5 million regularized Venezuelan migrants and the opening and management of the border. Likewise, at the international level we are leading hemispheric conversations to provide solutions based on access to legal channels, protection, integration and mechanisms for financing the response of host, transit and return countries.

    For the Petro-Marquez Government, looking for innovative measures far from the old recipes to address the problem surrounding the current flows in the region, are part of the set of enabling conditions to achieve peace in the hemisphere.

    The ultimate goal of this request from DED to Colombians in an irregular state in the United States is for this population to return to our country in dignified conditions. I have no doubt that with the application of adequate immigration policies, this population will maximize its contributions to the development and prosperity of both nations and the region.

    The United States is a country with which we have very close relations. This country opened its doors to me, welcomed me many years ago, and I have experienced and witnessed the cultural, economic, and social contributions of Colombians to this nation. The DED as a migratory relief mechanism will undoubtedly be a central measure on the path of transition towards total peace.

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    In the same way, I have witnessed and I recognize the support and collaboration that the United States has given Colombia. We share values ​​and objectives of deepening our democracies and seeking and consolidating peace and prosperity for our peoples. For this reason and together, through a symmetrical approach of co-responsibility, we have the opportunity to contribute to the creation and application of new paradigms in the hemisphere that favor regular migration and the protection of the human rights of the displaced and migrant population.

    Ours is an invitation to define and implement concrete actions, beyond the recycling of failed measures from the past. We seek to build joint solutions with the potential to become an example of creativity and concurrence of political will to implement innovative solutions for the entire region.

    At the same time, it is an exercise to reaffirm a mutual commitment to promote peace, resilience and transformative sustainable development that allows finding new ways to respond to new challenges and thus ensure a better future for our hemisphere and for our countries. A more humane future, a future of change for life.

    *Luis Gilberto Murillo is the Colombian ambassador to the United States

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