The Venezuelan ‘Exodus’ Before the Colombian Constitutional Court: Hospitality in a Time of ‘Crisis’?

Last month, the Colombian authorities announced that more than a million Venezuelans now reside in Colombia. They are fleeing neighboring Venezuela at increasing rates due to the harsh economic conditions they face there, where their most basic needs (health, food) are no longer met. As immigrants on the other side of the border, they have seen their access to health services limited to vital emergencies. This has prompted ‘tutela’ actions claiming a violation of the right to health under the 1991 Colombian Constitution. Strikingly, two recent decisions of the Constitutional Court of Colombia not only responded positively to such actions but drew on the idea of ‘crisis’ to reinforce the protection of Venezuelan immigrants’ constitutional rights, regardless of their legal status. This rights-based approach seems to stand in stark contrast with recent trends in Europe. There, the ‘migration crisis’ rhetoric has rather served as a possible justification for limitations to immigrants’ rights in a situation presented as both exceptional and highly burdensome for European countries.

Do the decisions of the Colombian Constitutional Court signal an alternative legal culture of hospitality towards foreigners? To provide a tentative answer, I will present an analysis of the two decisions and confront them to judgments of courts of the Global North. In so doing, I hope, inter alia, to unveil the ideological underpinnings of the use of the ‘crisis’ rhetoric in immigration cases on both sides of the Atlantic. This work is part of my larger doctoral research project, which aims at analyzing how constitutional judges construct foreigners through their discourse in immigration cases.

The seminar will be conducted by:

Louis Imbert
PhD Candidate at Sciences Po Law School, Louis Imbert is writing his doctoral dissertation under the supervision of Professor Guillaume Tusseau on the jurisprudential construction of a constitutional status of the foreigner in several legal systems (United States, France, Spain, European Union and European Convention on Human Rights).

28 November 2018
13:00 – 15:00

Sciences Po Law School
13, rue de l’Université – Paris 7ème
Room 410T – 4th Floor

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