Biden turns his back on Venezuelans without papers and deports them to Colombia


Washington correspondent

Updated:

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After letting in most of those who applied for asylum in the last year, Joe Biden has decided that from now on, Venezuelans who try to cross irregularly from Mexico will be deported not to their country, but to Colombia, which will welcome them. The current president maintains the most restrictive measures of the Trump era with regard to hot returns of undocumented persons detained after crossing the border.

In December 2021 they were detained by the US border police 24,819 Venezuelans, up from 206 in the same month a year earlier, according to details made public by the US federal government this week. There are already six million exiled Venezuelans who have had to flee misery and the repression of Chavismo, the largest exodus in the history of the American continent, and one of the largest in the world.

The Department of Homeland Security said on Monday that it already returns Venezuelans to Colombia if they have passed through that country before, applying a decree of the era Trump that allows the president to make hot returns due to the pandemic health crisis. Already on January 27, the US returned two Venezuelan citizens to Colombia after they crossed from Mexico without valid visas, according to an official statement. Most of these exiles have no choice but to leave their country on foot through Colombia.

Since 2019, The White House does not recognize the dictator Nicolás Maduro as the legitimate president of his country, and therefore he cannot repatriate detained Venezuelans, as he does with Mexicans or Haitians, among others. The bulk of the Central Americans detained, the US deports them to Mexico so that they await a decision on their applications or return to their countries of origin if they are not those.

For their part, most Venezuelan exiles have resettled in South America. Colombia has been the largest recipient of immigrants, with almost 2 million. In Peru there are a million, and in Chile just over half.

Increase in arrests

Since coming to power a year ago, Biden has seen a dramatic increase in the number of arrests of undocumented immigrants in the US. In the fiscal year that ended in September 2021, there were 1.7 million arrests. As this newspaper was able to verify during a visit to the border with Mexico, thousands of exiles from Chavismo began to cross that country in mid-2020, and amassed at various border points with the intention of turning themselves in and asking for asylum.

During the last years of the Trump Administration and the first months of the Biden Administration, many of them were returned to Mexico, which had agreed to become a waiting country for immigrants who applied to the US courts to approve the asylum or other immigration visa.

The new president implemented a gradual reopening of the border: first it stopped deporting a large part of the minors who had crossed alone and then it began to give appointments to adult asylum seekers who had already been deported, with priority given to families with children.

Many Venezuelans who were waiting in Mexico entered that round, after having tried to cross through dangerous areas of the desert or crossing the Rio Grande, many times victims of human traffickers and drug traffickers. After Biden Ended Trump’s Migrant Protection Program, but a court forced him to reinstate it in August.

Central American immigrants cross the Rio Grande, in 2021, to reach the United States
Central American immigrants cross the Rio Grande, in 2021, to reach the United States – EFE

The priority in entry of asylum seekers In the final months of the Trump Administration, they were, in this order, Venezuelans, Cubans, Salvadorans, Hondurans, Nicaraguans, Colombians, Guatemalans, Peruvians, Brazilians and Ecuadorians, according to a migration database from Syracuse University.

Arriving at the White House, President Biden raised a amnesty for the 11 million undocumented who are estimated to live in the US, something for which he needs the Capitol and that has been left in a kind of limbo due to the crisis on the border.

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi, said last year that denying the right of asylum to these people and expelling them from the country, alleging the coronavirus health crisis, violates “central precepts” of the 1951 UN Refugee Convention, and that the expulsions have had “serious humanitarian consequences in northern Mexico”.

It also calculates the migratory service of the United States that there are in this country more than 320,000 Venezuelans in an irregular situation. This figure was revealed by the White House after, in one of his last decisions in office, Trump granted deportation protection for Venezuelans due to the humanitarian crisis in their country. This is the so-called Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Venezuelans without papers who had been continuously in the US until January 20, 2021.

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