US and Mexico make deal to ease Venezuela migration
The US and Mexico have agreed to a plan that allows some Venezuelan migrants to enter the US, but sends those who arrive illegally back to Mexico.
A steady flow of Venezuelans fleeing the crisis-hit country continue to arrive at the US-Mexico border as a result of the deal.
Flights to the United States will be arranged for 24,000 migrants starting immediately.
In the past five years, more than six million Venezuelans have left the country.
Violence, food, fuel, and medicine shortages, and repression by President Nicolás Maduro’s government have fueled this exodus, which is one of the largest migrations in history.
It has seen people desperate to improve their lives walk thousands of miles along dangerous routes to reach the US-Mexico border, where they then attempt to enter illegally or claim asylum.
Those 24,000 Venezuelan migrants – a tiny fraction of those who fled – will be allowed to enter the US by air and stay for up to two years under the new deal, which is effective immediately.
US Department of Homeland Security says they must still be in Venezuela and not have crossed the border.
As part of the program, they must also have a US-based individual or organization providing financial support and backing up their application.
The relief it will bring to those affected by it will be huge. As a result, they will be spared the exhausting and dangerous journey to the US border and instead be able to fly into the country, where support measures are in place.
An important policy change is that undocumented Venezuelans who cross the southern border now face expulsion to Mexico. Previously, authorities did not usually accept expulsions of Venezuelans.
This is a part of a controversial Trump-era policy called Title 42, which allows the US to swiftly expel undocumented migrants, thus denying them asylum. According to officials, it was brought in during the pandemic to prevent Covid-19 from spreading.
Prior to now, Venezuelans who crossed into the US were not turned back – instead, they were temporarily allowed in and had the chance to apply for asylum.
Venezuelans who enter the US illegally – and there are many thousands – could now be sent to Mexico.