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United States Restarts Deportation Flights to Crisis-Hit Venezuela, Carrying Over 100 Migrants

by Chloe Baker
10 comments
Deportation flights to Venezuela

On Wednesday, the United States recommenced its deportation flights to Venezuela, sending back more than a hundred migrants as part of the Biden administration’s renewed approach to handle the escalating number of asylum-seekers. This marks a rare instance of U.S. immigration authorities resuming deportations to the South American nation and signifies a notable agreement with Venezuela’s President Nicolás Maduro, who has long been an adversary of the United States.

The inaugural flight, operated by a Boeing 737, originated from Harlingen, a city on the Texas border, and had a layover in Miami before making its final descent near Caracas, Venezuela’s capital. On board were approximately 130 Venezuelans, both male and female, who were transported to the aircraft via buses and were restrained with wrist and ankle cuffs. As they embarked, they were subject to frisking by U.S. immigration officials.

Corey Price, the acting executive associate director for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, remarked, “This is the first charter flight exclusively carrying Venezuelans back to their homeland in my professional tenure. We anticipate executing several more such flights in the days and weeks to come.”

According to Price, those chosen for these flights primarily consist of recent arrivals and migrants who have engaged in criminal activities in the United States. Jason Owens, Chief of U.S. Border Patrol, confirmed that the deportees had unlawfully entered the U.S. between official points of entry.

U.S. government plans indicate a schedule of “multiple” deportation flights to Venezuela each week, as stated in a U.S. Transportation Department waiver concerning travel restrictions. The initiative involves a collection of charter airlines collectively identified as ICE Air. This would make Venezuela one of the leading global destinations for U.S. immigration enforcement actions.

The individuals being deported will return to a Venezuela deeply embroiled in social, economic, and political turmoil. The ongoing crises have been exacerbated by a plunge in global oil prices, Venezuela’s primary revenue source, coupled with governance failures that have driven the nation into a deteriorating state. Citizens are struggling with soaring food prices, widespread business closures, and meager monthly minimum wages.

The Department of Homeland Security revealed that these flights would depart from unspecified U.S. airports and will be designated for Venezuelans who have been issued final orders of removal, either after unsuccessful asylum applications or failure to apply for humanitarian relief.

The reinitiation of these flights aims to address what the Transportation Department describes as “the surge in migration from Venezuela that is burdening immigration systems across the hemisphere, including in the United States.”

Historically, the U.S. has faced difficulties in deporting individuals to countries with whom it has tense diplomatic ties, such as Venezuela, Cuba, and Nicaragua. However, Cuba resumed accepting U.S. deportees in April, albeit at a significantly slower pace.

This move to resume deportations to Venezuela follows recent collaborative efforts between the Venezuelan government and its opposition to establish electoral conditions, which are anticipated to ease U.S. energy sanctions imposed on Maduro’s regime.

While the U.S. aims to deter illegal migration through the prospect of deportation, the measure does not appear to have dissuaded continued migration from Venezuela. This occurs in spite of the Biden administration’s introduction of a temporary legal status for Venezuelans already residing in the United States as of July 31, which could simplify work authorization and halt existing deportation orders.

Legal experts and immigration attorneys are advising Venezuelans to apply for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) as a safeguard against deportation. “Venezuelans who have not yet applied for TPS and are subject to deportation orders are at risk,” noted Rachel Leon, a Florida-based immigration attorney.

Concurrently, Mexico has agreed to admit certain Venezuelans deported from the United States, acknowledging Venezuela’s refusal to do so. Despite these measures, Venezuelan illegal border crossings remain high. In August alone, over 22,000 Venezuelans were apprehended for illegal entry, ranking them fourth behind migrants from Mexico, Guatemala, and Honduras. Many are flocking to major U.S. cities like New York and Chicago, thereby straining local shelters and temporary accommodations.

Reported by ___ Gonzalez from Harlingen, Texas. Additional reporting by Elliot Spagat in San Diego and Gisela Salomon in Miami.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Deportation flights to Venezuela

What is the significance of the U.S. resuming deportation flights to Venezuela?

The resumption of deportation flights to Venezuela is noteworthy for several reasons. First, it marks a rare cooperation between the U.S. and Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro, who has been a longtime adversary of the United States. Second, it indicates a shift in the Biden administration’s approach to handle the increasing number of asylum-seekers coming from Venezuela. Finally, it could have broader implications for U.S. immigration policy and diplomatic relations with countries in the Western Hemisphere.

Who are the primary deportees on these flights?

The primary deportees are recent arrivals to the United States and migrants who have engaged in criminal activities while in the country. They are individuals who have been issued final orders of removal, either after failing in their asylum applications or not applying for humanitarian relief.

How many such deportation flights are planned?

The U.S. government plans to operate “multiple” deportation flights to Venezuela each week. The exact number is not specified but is indicative of a significant ongoing effort.

What are the conditions in Venezuela that deportees are returning to?

Deportees are returning to a country in the midst of social, economic, and political crises. Venezuela has been grappling with the plummeting global oil prices, its primary revenue source, as well as governance failures that have pushed the country into a deteriorating state.

What is the U.S. government’s motive behind these deportation flights?

The U.S. aims to deter illegal migration from Venezuela through the prospect of deportation. This is part of broader efforts to manage what the U.S. Transportation Department describes as “the surge in migration from Venezuela that is burdening immigration systems across the hemisphere, including in the United States.”

Are there any legal pathways for Venezuelans to avoid deportation?

Yes, legal experts and immigration attorneys are advising Venezuelans to apply for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) as a safeguard against deportation. The Biden administration has also introduced a temporary legal status for Venezuelans already residing in the U.S. as of July 31, which could simplify work authorization and halt existing deportation orders.

How does this development fit into the broader context of U.S. diplomatic relations?

The restart of deportation flights to Venezuela comes after recent collaborative efforts between the Venezuelan government and its opposition to establish electoral conditions, which are expected to ease U.S. energy sanctions imposed on Maduro’s regime. This could mark a turning point in U.S.-Venezuela relations, although the long-term implications are yet to be determined.

Have other countries followed similar measures?

As of the information available, Mexico has agreed to admit certain Venezuelans who have been deported from the U.S., acknowledging Venezuela’s refusal to do so. However, the broader international response to this development is not yet clear.

More about Deportation flights to Venezuela

  • U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)
  • Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Venezuelans
  • U.S. Transportation Department Travel Restrictions Waiver
  • Venezuela Economic Crisis Overview
  • Biden Administration Immigration Policy
  • U.S.-Venezuela Diplomatic Relations
  • Mexico’s Immigration Policy on Venezuelans

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10 comments

RaviK October 18, 2023 - 11:12 pm

gotta say, the whole situation seems like a diplomatic minefield. Wonder how this will impact US relations with other Latin American countries.

Reply
SarahW October 19, 2023 - 2:58 am

Confusing. Why cooperate with Maduro now? There must be something bigger at play here.

Reply
EmilyH October 19, 2023 - 6:04 am

If you’re Venezuelan, apply for TPS asap. Looks like the U.S isn’t messing around with deportations anymore.

Reply
JaneSmith October 19, 2023 - 6:44 am

Interesting how the US plans multiple flights a week, sounds like they’re getting serious bout this issue.

Reply
PaulM October 19, 2023 - 7:55 am

Mixed feelings on this. Understand the need for immigration control but it’s tough times for everyone, especially those being sent back.

Reply
MichealO October 19, 2023 - 11:19 am

Anyone else wondering what’s gonna happen to those people deported back? Venezuela isn’t exactly a paradise right now.

Reply
LindaT October 19, 2023 - 1:54 pm

So the Biden admin is granting temp legal status to Venezuelans, but also deporting them? mixed signals much?

Reply
TonyR October 19, 2023 - 2:29 pm

As if Venezuela doesn’t have enough problems. Now they have to deal with returning citizens, many of whom might be criminals according to the article.

Reply
NinaZ October 19, 2023 - 4:15 pm

Is this gonna be a trend now? Deporting to countries we’ve had strained relations with? First Cuba, now this.

Reply
JohnDoe October 19, 2023 - 8:39 pm

Wow, didn’t see this coming. U.S and Maduro working together? what’s next?

Reply

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