Visa Waiver: Chile reaches agreement with the U.S. to expedite the presentation of criminal records

Boris Ulloa
Photo byJhon Muller/AFP

The agreement includes the submission of criminal records by the Chilean government to U.S. authorities. Chile will remain on the Visa Waiver in the short term and then it will be necessary to evaluate whether deportations have increased or decreased.

Due to the so-called "criminal tourism" carried out by Chilean gangs, especially in the southwest of the U.S., and which was alerted last month by the Californian prosecutor of Orange County, Todd Spitzer, on Friday, June 16, the President of the U.S. House of Representatives, Kevin McCarthy - the third most important authority in the country - led an event in California with members of his party to criticize Chile's continued participation in the Visa Waiver Program.

There, Congresswoman Young Kim -who sent a letter together with two Democratic representatives alerting the Secretary of Homeland Security, Alejandro Mayorkas, with a copy to Secretary of State Antony Blinken- stated that "I will definitely be one of those strong voices to make this program end in Chile".

Letter from Valdés to Spitzer. Last weekend, Attorney General Spitzer released a letter sent to him by Chile's Ambassador to the U.S., Juan Gabriel Valdés. In it, Valdes tells Spitzer that "we are currently finalizing the text of a new agreement that will increase automation and the instantaneous exchange of police information." However, the Orange County prosecutor responds with a series of harsh comments against Chile's continued participation in the Visa Waiver program: "100% of Chilean citizens who have been released from jail in Orange County after committing residential burglaries never return to court to answer for their crimes... We cannot continue to allow Chile to import criminals into this country to commit crimes.

U.S. House Offensive At the event on Friday the 16th, McCarthy stated that "we will not allow the use of money when it comes to Chile for the visa waiver program until this problem is solved and Americans are safe. This is not just a problem in Southern California. It's a problem all over the country.

And, without going any further, last Wednesday, June 21, the U.S. Lower House took an important step in that direction, as a committee of this branch of Parliament approved, by 33 votes to 25, a bill to fund the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), which includes, in an amendment, the withdrawal of funds for Chile's Visa Waiver program. This, until the DHS has access to the criminal background databases of the citizens of our country traveling to the US.

Criminal records will be shared. Yesterday, Foreign Minister Alberto van Klaveren held a meeting with the U.S. Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, with whom he "reviewed the relationship between both countries, which this year commemorates its bicentennial".

After the meeting, the minister said that "we discussed the approval of the agreement to avoid double taxation, as well as the Visa Waiver Program. We expressed our strong interest in maintaining this program".

Hours later, the Foreign Ministry informed that "this week, a high-level technical team with representatives of the Inter-Institutional Roundtable, composed of the Ministry of Interior, Foreign Affairs, Police and Civil Registry, was in Washington DC working with the DHS (US Department of Homeland Security)... In this context, the round of consultations ended satisfactorily for the parties and we have given assurances to the DHS that criminal records will be shared to avoid criminal tourism".

Chile is currently the only Latin American country within the U.S. Visa waiver program.

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Hello, my name is Boris Ulloa, an international journalist living in New York.

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