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The border between Colombia and Venezuela in Paraguachon, Colombia. Photo: Guillermo Legaria via Getty Images

Colombia will provide temporary protective status to undocumented Venezuelan migrants, President Ivan Duque said Monday in a joint announcement with United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi.

Why it matters: For years, Colombia has seen an influx of people fleeing economic and political turmoil in Venezuela. More than half of the 1.7 million Venezuelans in Colombia are undocumented.

Details: The new protections will allow migrants to work legally in Colombia and grant 10-year residence permits.

  • Migrants who entered Colombia before Jan. 31 are eligible, as are migrants who legally enter Colombia during the first two years of the new policy.
  • Migrants who currently have temporary residence status will also be able to extend their stay.
  • Those who do not register under the new status may eventually face deportation.

What they're saying: "We need to take action," Duque said at the press conference, per Reuters. "This process marks a milestone in Colombia’s migration policies."

  • Duque also called on the international community to increase funding to help vaccinate migrants against the coronavirus.
  • The UN's Grandi called Colombia's move an "example to the region and world."
  • "It is a life-changing gesture for the 1.7 million displaced Venezuelans who will now benefit from added protection, security and stability while they are away from home,” Grandi added.

The big picture: The Venezuelan population in Colombia fell more than 2% last year, per Reuters. Tens of thousands returned to Venezuela after the coronavirus pandemic shut down much of the informal work sector.

  • Colombian officials believe that many will return, bringing others with them, as the economy recovers, Reuters reported.
  • More than five million people have left Venezuela since 2015 — "one of the largest displacement crisis in the world," according to the United Nations.

Go deeper

1 hour ago - Health

Pfizer-BioNTech: Booster doses more effective at blocking Omicron

Prepared doses of the BioNtech-Pfizer Covid-19 coronavirus vaccine in Germany on Dec. 7. Photo: Thomas Kienzle/AFP via Getty Images

Pfizer and BioNTech said Wednesday that two doses of their COVID-19 vaccine were significantly less effective at neutralizing the Omicron variant in early lab tests, but a three-dose regimen was more effective.

Why it matters: Omicron, which has been labeled a variant of concern by the World Health Organization after being identified by scientists in South Africa last month, has forced vaccine makers to reassess the effectiveness of their vaccines against this specific new form of coronavirus.

Mike Allen, author of AM
1 hour ago - Politics & Policy

Biden unveils "Building a Better America" branding

President Biden speaks on infrastructure while visiting a bridge in Woodstock, N.H., last month. Photo: John Tully/Getty Images

President Biden today launched a new website and unveiled bold new branding as part of a nationwide tour to sell the benefits of his infrastructure package.

Why it matters: The White House says passage of the new law shows the ability to "forge bipartisan consensus and prove our democracy can deliver big wins" even in these toxic times.

3 hours ago - World

Olaf Scholz sworn in as German chancellor, succeeding Merkel

Incoming German Chancellor Olaf Scholz is sworn in by Bundestag President Bärbel Bas in Berlin today. Photo: Sean Gallup/Getty Images

Social Democrat Olaf Scholz was sworn in as chancellor of Germany on Wednesday, succeeding Angela Merkel after 16 years and launching a new era of German and European politics.

Why it matters: Scholz, a center-left pragmatist who served as finance minister and vice chancellor in Merkel's last government, will lead Europe's largest economy in a coalition with the environmentalist Greens and pro-business Free Democrats.