In what is both an unorthodox anti-corruption effort and an unusual political appeal to Ecuador’s immigrant community, Ecuador’s President Rafael Correa has offered citizenship to undocumented immigrants living in the country who give information to officials about corrupt police officers.
According to the Spanish news agency EFE, Correa provided a telephone hotline at a press conference on Saturday so that foreigners living in the country illegally can report extortion by local authorities. Citing a concern for corruption in his country, Correa told reporters that he had heard “reports of police officers who extort money from the ‘undocumented.’ There are districts where they locate foreigners who are illegally in the country and instead of following the established procedure, ask for money or other collateral.”
The president went on to offer citizenship as a reward to those who give information that leads to the apprehension of police officers who use such methods, saying “If we help you punish those bad elements of the police, we’ll give you papers, because you are contributing to the work of the national government.”
The announcement is the latest development in Ecuador’s historically lax immigration policies, which until September of 2010 granted “universal citizenship” to those seeking to live in the country. According to the Washington, DC-based Institute for Policy Studies, Ecuador’s approach to immigration makes it a prime midpoint for human trafficking networks seeking access to the United States.