NewsAnd what will happen to the Venezuelan migrants who...

And what will happen to the Venezuelan migrants who will not be allowed to enter the United States?

Migration to the United States is undergoing a change. Now, in addition to migrants from Mexico and the Northern Triangle of Central America —made up of Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador—, the North American country is the destination of thousands of migrants from Venezuela.

According to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the United States received 190,000 asylum applications last year, of which 27,000 are from Venezuelans.

Given the increase in migration from Venezuela, the United States and Mexico have recently announced new migration management measures. However, these new policies are already causing inconvenience and problems for immigrants, some of whom have faced problems in their transit to the North American country.

Why are Venezuelans emigrating?

Millions of Venezuelans have left their country in recent years, trying to escape the protracted economic and social collapse of the once-prosperous oil nation. Those who walk overland to the United States have an arduous route through Central America and then on to Mexico.

It is estimated that there are more than 5.9 million residing in Latin America, of which 2.4 million in Colombia, according to UN data.

The United States has also received a barrage of Venezuelans in recent months.

Between October 2021 and August 2022, more than 150,000 Venezuelan migrants were detained at the southern border of the United States, according to data from the Office of Customs and Border Protection (CBP, for its acronym in English).

On their way to the United States, Venezuelans take increasingly dangerous routes, such as the Darien Gap, a jungle region on the border between Colombia and Panama.

“While many of the Venezuelans who cross this dangerous route had previously been living in other South American countries, a growing number are now leaving Venezuela directly,” Giuseppe Loprete, head of the International Organization for Migrations (IOM) in Panama.

Venezuelans not only come from their country. They also arrive from Colombia, Ecuador and Peru. The economic difficulties due to the pandemic, unemployment, bureaucratic restrictions and the lack of social inclusion have caused their stampede.

“They have become even more vulnerable and cannot meet their basic needs,” so “they are resorting to dangerous crossings through the Darién in search of a better life, security and stability,” Loprete said.

“What marks that they use more and more irregular or dangerous routes, such as Darién, is the increase in the number of countries that have changed their migratory frameworks and now require visas,” the regional director of the International Federation of the Red Cross for America, Martha Keays.

Some 4.3 million Venezuelan refugees and migrants in Latin America and the Caribbean lack basic services, food and formal employment despite regularization and support efforts in host countries, according to a report released on October 12.

The Venezuelan diaspora to the United States has exploded in the last decade, driven mainly by poverty and violence. In 2022, it represented around 71% of the more than 150,000 migrants who entered Panama through the dangerous Darién jungle, which borders Colombia.

“Half of the refugee and migrant population in the region cannot afford three meals a day,” the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) said in a joint statement, presenting the study.

The report, called the Refugee and Migrant Needs Analysis (RMNA), details that “to buy food or avoid living on the streets, many Venezuelans are forced to resort to survival sex, begging or indebtedness.”

The rapid increase in the cost of living, the impact of the pandemic and unemployment have exacerbated the vulnerability of Venezuelans who emigrate, adds the study by the Regional Interagency Coordination Platform for Refugees and Migrants from Venezuela (R4V), co-directed by the UNHCR and IOM.

According to Eduardo Stein, representative of the UNHCR and the IOM, “host countries have shown constant leadership in their response to the crisis, adopting regularization measures and facilitating access to health, education and other social services”, but it is not enough.

US immigration control measures

The United States agreed on October 13 with Mexico to accept the entry of up to 24,000 Venezuelan migrants by plane, through a legal channel similar to that applied to Ukrainians, and to expel those who enter illegally through its southern border.

The plan “to reduce the irregular migration of Venezuelans” includes “a new process to legally and safely bring up to 24,000” of them, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) reported in a statement.

But those who “attempt to enter the United States illegally will be turned back,” he said.

“There is a legal and orderly way for Venezuelans to enter the United States and legal entry is the only way,” said Secretary of National Security Alejandro Mayorkas, quoted in the note.

To enter legally, the applicant — who must pass biometric security checks and be vaccinated — needs to make a petition backed by a person or organization based in the United States.

Those who were expelled from the United States in the last five years or as of this Wednesday, or those who enter Mexico or Panama irregularly after the announcement of the program, will not be able to apply.

Accepted Venezuelans “will be authorized on a case-by-case basis to travel to the United States by air directly, (…) thus relieving pressure at the border” and will be able to apply for jobs, the DHS reported.

Mexico’s reaction

The Mexican government on Saturday urged Venezuelan migrants not to form caravans, saying those who do will no longer be eligible to enter the United States under a new humanitarian scheme announced this week.

“It is important to note that marching in a caravan or transiting irregularly in Mexican territory cancels the process,” said a statement from the Mexican government’s National Migration Institute.

The entity indicated that it would be in permanent communication with the United States border authorities.

On Friday morning, a caravan of several hundred migrants, mostly Venezuelans, formed in southern Mexico. Although it later dispersed, hundreds more left Friday night in smaller groups also bound for the United States.

On Saturday, INM officials backed by the National Guard broke up groups of migrants trying to move from the southern border state of Chiapas to neighboring Oaxaca, where Venezuelans have been gathering for transit permits, he said. an organism source.

New immigration policy separates couples

Venezuelan migrants denounce that thanks to the new policy, the United States is separating some marriages.

Some 200 Venezuelans who crossed overland into the United States were expelled Thursday to Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, according to the rights group Jesuit Migrant Service. US officials told Reuters that 300 had been expelled across the US border the day before.

“I am alone in a country where I have no one to help me,” lamented Angélica Ramírez, who traveled for two months with her husband before entering the border city of El Paso, Texas, on Monday.

Ramírez said her husband was allowed to stay in the United States while she was sent back Thursday, “inexplicably.”

“He was my only company, my only help, my only support,” the woman added as she fought back tears in an interview near the border wall in Ciudad Juárez, contemplating returning to Venezuela without money or a cell phone.

Ramírez said his two sons, ages 2 and 8, remained in Venezuela.

With information from AFP and Reuters

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