“Separated by Deportation: A Family’s Struggle Sheds Light on U.S. Migration Challenges”

by Sophia Chen
Venezuelan Deportation

Pedro Naranjo’s admiration for his father led him to join the Venezuelan air force as a helicopter pilot. Their close bond led them to flee to the United States together when the elder Naranjo faced potential imprisonment for his involvement in opposition activities against Nicolás Maduro’s government. However, they now find themselves separated due to the strains of the U.S. immigration system. Retired General Pedro Naranjo remains in legal limbo in the U.S., while his loyal son, a Venezuelan air force lieutenant, is in a Venezuelan military prison after being deported by the Biden administration in an effort to deter asylum-seekers from Venezuela.

In a phone interview from Houston, General Naranjo expressed his disbelief, stating that they never had a backup plan and never anticipated that the U.S., as a supporter of the Venezuelan opposition and advocate for human rights and freedom, would take such actions against his son.

The Venezuelan diaspora poses a significant migration challenge, which Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas are set to discuss in Mexico City. Last year, Mexico ended visa-free travel for Venezuelans, making it more challenging for those seeking asylum in the United States. This change led many Venezuelans to embark on treacherous journeys through the Darién Gap, resulting in over half a million migrants, mainly Venezuelans, crossing the border of Colombia and Panama this year.

Despite the resumption of U.S. deportation flights to Venezuela, which began in October, the influx of Venezuelans crossing the U.S. border illegally has not diminished. In October and November, Venezuelans were arrested over 85,000 times at the border, second only to Mexicans in terms of nationality.

Little information is available about the fate of those deported to Venezuela, raising concerns among critics and the Venezuelan exile community in South Florida. Independent Venezuelan American Citizens, a group in Miami, joined Representative Carlos Jimenez in condemning the younger Naranjo’s deportation. They made efforts to block the deportation but received no response from the White House. Ernesto Ackerman, a member of the group, likened the deportation to sending a U.S. drug agent into the hands of a drug cartel.

The deportation of Naranjo occurs amid U.S. efforts to improve relations with Caracas, including easing oil sanctions and granting a presidential pardon to a key Maduro ally. However, neither the White House nor U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement has commented on the Naranjos’ situation.

The Naranjo family’s ordeal began in 2018 when General Naranjo was arrested for alleged involvement in a plot to assassinate Maduro and disrupt Venezuela’s presidential election. Despite denying his involvement, he was court-martialed on charges of rebellion and treason. In 2021, he suffered a stroke in prison during the pandemic and was allowed to complete his sentence at home under international pressure. Fearing a return to prison due to his co-defendants’ extended sentences, he decided to flee in late 2022, with his son accompanying him.

Their journey took them from Colombia to the United States, where they crossed the Rio Grande near Brownsville, Texas, and surrendered to the U.S. Border Patrol. Their illegal crossing subjected them to stricter standards for initial asylum screenings, as a rule implemented in May applied higher standards to those crossing illegally after passing through another country, such as Mexico.

Despite his appeals, Naranjo’s asylum request was rejected, and he lacked legal representation throughout the proceedings. The fate of other deserving Venezuelan asylum-seekers remains uncertain, as experts warn that they could face similar challenges.

The younger Naranjo, upon his return to Venezuela, was detained on desertion charges and is currently held in a military prison alongside government opponents. Migration experts anticipate that more Venezuelans deserving of asylum may face similar fates in the future.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Venezuelan Deportation

Q: What led Pedro Naranjo and his son to flee Venezuela for the United States?

A: Pedro Naranjo and his son fled Venezuela due to the elder Naranjo’s fear of imprisonment for his alleged involvement in opposition activities against Nicolás Maduro’s government.

Q: Why are they now separated?

A: They are separated because the U.S. immigration system deported the younger Naranjo as part of an effort to discourage asylum-seekers from Venezuela, while the elder Naranjo remains in legal limbo in the U.S.

Q: What challenges does the Venezuelan diaspora pose to the U.S. immigration system?

A: The Venezuelan diaspora presents challenges as it has led to a significant influx of migrants seeking asylum in the United States, prompting changes in immigration policies and enforcement.

Q: How did changes in Mexico’s visa policy affect Venezuelans seeking asylum in the United States?

A: Mexico’s decision to end visa-free travel for Venezuelans made it more difficult for them to seek asylum in the U.S., as they could no longer easily cross the border and surrender to U.S. agents.

Q: What concerns do critics and the Venezuelan exile community have regarding deportations to Venezuela?

A: Critics and the Venezuelan exile community are concerned about the safety and well-being of deportees once they return to Venezuela, as conditions there are challenging and dangerous.

Q: Why did the younger Naranjo’s asylum request get rejected?

A: The exact reason for the rejection of the younger Naranjo’s asylum request is unclear, but it may be related to changes in asylum policies and his lack of legal representation throughout the process.

Q: How does this case relate to U.S. efforts to improve relations with Caracas?

A: The Naranjo case occurs amid U.S. efforts to improve relations with Caracas, including easing sanctions and granting pardons, but the deportation raises questions about the treatment of Venezuelan asylum-seekers.

More about Venezuelan Deportation

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JournoExpert22 December 27, 2023 - 8:35 am

Dis article paints a pic of da complexities in Venezuela’s situation. da changes in Mexico’s visa rulez makin things tougher, n da challenges faced by Venezuelans r real.

PoliticalWatcher December 27, 2023 - 12:36 pm

U.S.-Venezuela relations r messy, dis case shows it’s not easy. Gotta wonder what’s gonna happen to other asylum-seekers from Venezuela.

GrammarPolice December 27, 2023 - 7:57 pm

Some sentences r a bit hard to follow with missing punctuation, but da story’s important. Hope Pedro Naranjo n his son find a way to reunite!

InfoGeek December 28, 2023 - 1:17 am

I think we need more info on why da asylum request got rejected. But it’s sad to see how dis family’s story reflects broader issues in immigration.

Reader123 December 28, 2023 - 3:09 am

da saga of Pedro Naranjo n his son’s struggle sure sheds lite on da mess da U.S. immig system’s in! no one had a plan B, man, dey tot the U.S. was gonna help, but bam, dey got split up.


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