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Regional Secretary for Social Development called for the immigrant population to access state benefits

In order to bring to light the rights of immigrants and the importance of the fact that they too can enter the Social Registry of Homes so they may access the network of social benefits that the State provides, the Regional Secretary for Social Development in Valparaiso, Abel Gallardo, arrived this Friday to the Immaculate Heart of Mary Church to meet with several people who have arrived in the country in the last while and with pastor Pedro Nahuelcura, who is Director of the Mobility Sector for the Archbishop and one of the "go to" people for immigrants.

Abel Gallardo met with a group of Haitians and said that only one-third of the foreigners in our area are a part of the registry."We wanted to come to express recognition that the Chilean welfare platform is available to people who come from abroad. They contribute to the development of our country and the Region according to the Casen survey of 2013. The study said people coming to Chile have more years of schooling than Chileans", said the Social Development Minister. Abel Gallardo added that "they require in the initial stages help from the state to insert themselves correctly into our society and for that particular purpose there is the Social Register of Homes, which is in face the gateway we have for all vulnerable people to access state benefits."

The regional secretary said that of the population estimated for Valparaíso (one million 800 thousand people), a total of one million 300 thousand are already in the Social Register of Homes, while the 30 thousand foreigners who live in the Region, only a third of them are using this tool. "That's why we want to appeal to foreigners who have properly come into the country and who have an identity card, that they can join this registry and take advantage of the programs offered," said Gallardo.

Moreover, the Social Development Secretary said that "foreigners who now have the Social Register of Homes have exactly the same rights as other Chileans, such as the "Chile Crece Contigo" program, which is part of our ministry's responsiblity, among other things, such as giving out sets of baby accessories for new mothers who attend hospitals in the public network.

Similarly, Gallardo stressed that within the public policies that are being implemented at the local level is a regional table of immigrants in which different government ministries take part and seeks to solve issues that can affect newcomers to our country. In addition, he acknowledged that while most immigrants are not among the poorest people by income, there is still a long way to go for multidimensional poverty: "In access to health, education, housing or work, there are still barriers that we must overcome, that is the responsibility of our ministry in the implementation of social policies. "

Finally, Gallardo said that the Government of Chile refuses and will continue refuse to stigmatize any group, either Chilean or foreign, remembering that according to Gendarmerie figures, the number of foreigners who are part of the criminal population is negligible.

For his part, Father Pedro Nahuelcura, expressed concern about criticism he has heard from some sectors against immigration and some abuse which has come to light, both with regard to treatment of people in the labor sector. "We are monitoring this type of exploitation and we will go to court. Faced with the vulnerability of some immigrants, we as a church welcome them," he said. Considering that populations such as the Chinese and Peruvian have arrived in Valparaiso to install commercial enterprises and that this has not generated too much trouble. As for the arrival of Haitians, the priest asks: "can it be that racism or unbridled classism is rising? We as a church promote the idea that all are welcome, because for God there is no legal or illegal and we are all brothers."

And at the end of his analysis, Nahuelcura warns that "since we can not say that all Chileans living abroad are thieves, we can not do it with the foreigners who live here. This is a sensitive issue that concerns us and we have not resolved because we have an immigration law dating back to 1975.

Donald Jean, one of the Haitian immigrants who met with the Regional Secretary for Social Development and with Father Nahuelcura, has been working in a bakery for some time and has been very well received by the people of Valparaiso. "I came to work, I have been here a month and a half and nobody has been bad with us, I have been treated well and there is only one thing I did not like ... the cold," he concluded.

Finally, from Social Development, it was reported that of the 9,803 foreigners who now make up the Social Registry of Households in the Region of Valparaíso (out of a total of 1,301,366 people), 5,112 of them belong to the first stratum, the 40 percent most vulnerable of the population and that therefore, they will have the greater amount of benefits that the State can deliver.