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Chile’s Decree Law 1094: A Source of Immigrant Vulnerability

Authors: Joao Da Silva*, CUNY - Graduate Center
Topics: Immigration/Transnationalism, Latin America, Political Geography
Keywords: Immigration, Chile, Immigration Enforcement, Immigrant Vulnerability, Immigration Policy, Immigrants, Human Geography, Immigration Law, South-South Migration
Session Type: Paper
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


With the increased risks and costs of migrating to destinations in North America and Europe, the South American nation of Chile is rapidly becoming a receiving nation for immigrants from other South American nations and the Caribbean. Immigration to Chile is governed by Decree-Law No. 1094 (DL 1094) of 1975, the oldest immigration law in South America, decreed by the military junta led by General Augusto Pinochet during a state of siege. A relic of the Cold War, the law frames non-citizens and non-legal residents as extranjeros who pose a potential national security risk.

DL 1094 imposes significant barriers for immigrants to access stable and safe employment, healthcare, public education and adequate housing. The law’s provisions have led new arrivals to promptly fall into irregular legal status, which exposes them to workplace abuse, and limits their housing options to overcrowded apartments or makeshift settlements on the periphery of urban centers. Analyzing DL 1094 and its impact on immigrants to Chile through a vulnerability framework, I argue that the law positions immigrants’ outside of the national project, and that the Chilean state’s failure to enact a new law that addresses contemporary immigration from a human rights-based approach contributes to perpetuating the vulnerability of immigrants.

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