Chile: One million immigrants in the labor force | Digital medium The Northern Fox

There are one million 960 immigrants with work in Chile, according to figures published last week by the National Institute of Statistics (INE), which in its core showed an improvement in employment numbers.

For the first time, the number of foreigners with work in the country is in seven figures, an increase that has been constantly occurring in recent years. The previous milestone, that of half a million, had been given in 2017.

For Manuel Hidalgo, spokesman for the National Coordinator of Immigrants, “the employment figure for migrant workers in Chile is satisfactory. Moreover, the unemployment rate is lower than that which governs the labor force. The migrant population manages to find employment and what is important is that its rate of informal work is similar to that of Chile”.

According to a study by the Jesuit Migrant Service (SJM), with data from the latest Casen Survey, between 2017 and 2020 the employment rates of the migrant population decreased, from 75% to 68%, and unemployment had increased, from 8%. to 10%, but the relevant data is that in both cases, it presents a better percentage of employment than the general population in Chile.

This is explained because “the labor nature is the initial motivation for migration and necessary to establish itself,” explains Juan Bravo in a study for the UDP, cited by the SJM, which also rejects the idea that labor informality focuses on immigrants. , since the percentage differences were not significant (24% foreigners and 28% Chileans).

The million workers who have joined the national labor force have not had an easy job. According to Francisca Vargas, director of the Legal Clinic for Migrants and Refugees of the UDP, “the main problem that foreigners have is obtaining visas in the time necessary to access a job. Many times they are not hired or are forced to work underground.

In this case, adds Lya Rojas, director of Rojas Abogados, “abuses are committed against foreigners who are not legal, because they cannot report for fear of being deported. But the law protects the worker without distinction of being Chilean or foreigner”.

The general rule of prohibition of change of migratory category is very harmful, since it even forces them to travel to their country to regularize their situation, adds Francisca Vargas, who points out that “we hope that the current authority can change this and people can look for work in equal conditions”.

Attractive to work despite not exercising the profession

Since the most recent stage of migration began, there is a phenomenon that has been repeated repeatedly: that foreigners have to work in very different jobs, most of the time of lower hierarchy, than the profession they exercised in their countries. That could have a remedy.

From the National Coordinator of Immigrants, Manuel Hidalgo explains that “foreigners sometimes cannot work in the areas for which they have technical or professional qualifications. He would say that a significant percentage is occupied in areas for which he is overqualified ”. The spokesman indicates that this is due to “the economic difficulties and also time to be able to validate the titles. This was an expensive process that only the University of Chile did, but I understand that a new law opened this function to other universities”.

According to the SJM study, although there is a higher percentage labor participation in migrants than in Chileans, “income in the main occupation decreased 14.3% for migrant workers between 2015 and 2020, while for Chileans they increased 23.1% ”, which would be due “to the increase in the migrant labor force with higher education that could not access jobs according to those qualifications”.

In any case, says Hidalgo, although “Chile has had a drop in job creation and it is perceived that it is difficult to find a good job”, it is still an attractive destination to settle and work. “Yes, it is perceived that there is less informality than in other countries and labor and social rights institutions, despite the prevailing neoliberalism. And the other advantage is the exchange difference, because even if you receive a minimum salary of 350,000 or 400,000 pesos, that’s about 450 dollars, and if a migrant sends 100 or 150 dollars to Ecuador, Colombia, Venezuela, mainly, they have there an important purchasing power”, concludes Hidalgo.

Rita Lages de Oliveir: “Racism in Chile does not start now, it is structural”

Lawyer, academician of Law U. de Chile, member of the Board of Directors of the Chair of Racism and Contemporary Migration.

Has the perception of Chileans regarding immigrant workers been changing? When a country is faced with an increase in migration, at first the attitude is defensive, with a racist and xenophobic narrative, but as people learn about the benefits of a racially, culturally, etc. diverse society, attitudes can change. For the better.

What is the work of the State? Racism in Chile does not start now, it is from long before, structural. Migration only makes visible racist discourses that were already brewing internally. Ministries must be involved, from Education to Social Development, and others, and introduce a culture of rights. Human Rights are also for migrants, whether as workers, students or others.

Are they valued? Migrants have more years of schooling than nationals, which means that migrant workers can be a very productive and positive labor force for the national market, which demands for this labor force necessarily occupied by foreigners, given the emptiness that may exist in the domestic labor market.


We would love to say thanks to the author of this write-up for this outstanding material

Chile: One million immigrants in the labor force | Digital medium The Northern Fox

You can find our social media profiles here as well as additional related pages here.