Lenin Moreno says he and President Rafael Correa are in “complete agreement” on immigration policy.
“I support the language in the (2008) Montecristi Constitution and the concept of free mobility between nations,” says the Alianza País presidential candidate. “I oppose the criminalization of migrants which, unfortunately, is a growing trend in Europe and North America.”
With the exception of residents from nine countries, all foreigners are allowed to enter Ecuador showing only their passport.
Moreno says he will strengthen and expand the measures developed over the past 10 years in favor of migrants.
“Ecuador’s laws regarding immigration are the most innovative and progressive in the world and I intend to support them 100%,” he says. On the other hand, Moreno says his government will look out for Ecuadorians who choose to live in other countries. “We will defend the rights of the Ecuadorians wherever they decide to live and, if they decide to come home, we will receive them with open arms.”
Moreno added that some controls are necessary due to extreme circumstances. “The situation in the Middle East and Africa, with hundreds of thousands of people escaping war and famine, requires regulation,” he says. “The countries of Europe cannot handle a flood of desperate refugees individually. This is a crisis that must be addressed by all the countries involved in a humane, compassionate manner.”
He also said that the visa requirements that Ecuador applied to Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Nepal, Nigeria, Pakistan and Somalia, were necessary. “Unfortunately, there is an extremely high rate of human trafficking conducted in these nations, as well as money laundering and drug trafficking, and special measures are required.”
Moreno also said that Ecuador must make special provisions to deal with migrants who take advantage of the country’s open-door policy to attempt to travel north to the U.S. and Canada. In the past three years, more than 200 Cubans and Haitians have been deported after they admitted they were using Ecuador only as a transit point.
Moreno’s opponent Guillermo Lasso has backed off last week’s statement of “Ecuador or Ecuadorians,” explaining that he meant it only as it related to government-to-government professional recruitment programs.
“Although I agree in principle with the 2008 constitution on immigration, I believe there needs to tighter controls for those we allow into the country,” Lasso said Monday. “These are dangerous times and the government cannot be blind to that fact.”