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Biden administration to reinstate Venezuelan deportations

The Department of Homeland Security on Thursday announced that the United States will resume deportations to Venezuela. File Photo by Al Drago/UPI
The Department of Homeland Security on Thursday announced that the United States will resume deportations to Venezuela. File Photo by Al Drago/UPI | License Photo

Oct. 6 (UPI) -- The Biden administration plans to reinstate deportations to Venezuela in an effort to curtail a surge of migrants pouring into the country from Mexico in recent months.

Under the new policy directive, Venezuelans who enter the United States without a legal protective status won't be permitted to stay, according to a statement from the Homeland Security Department.

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"Today's announcement makes clear that we are committed to strictly enforcing immigration laws and quickly removing individuals who do not avail themselves of these orderly processes and choose to cross our border unlawfully," the statement said, adding that the U.S. government would not deport those who could prove they would face persecution if they returned to Venezuela.

On Thursday, the Maduro-led government of Venezuela agreed to take back thousands of its citizens through a series of deportation flights from the U.S., although officials did not provide details about how the deal was reached.

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Venezuelans already in federal custody "will be removed promptly in the coming days," administration officials said.

The coming deportations are intended to target Venezuelans who arrived in the United States after a July 31 deadline to apply for Temporary Protected Status -- a program that was expanded just last month to offer work permits to nearly half a million Venezuelans already in the country.

The move comes as the administration mounted an increased response to tens of thousands of illegal Venezuelans flooding across the U.S.-Mexico border in the past month, before arriving in large numbers in several major U.S. cities across the nation.

The policy change also takes place as the administration announced this week it was waiving 26 federal laws to construct additional border wall in South Texas -- breaking a campaign promise by President Joe Biden, in which he vowed there would "not be another foot of wall constructed on my administration."

Biden, whose administration has been plagued by border issues since he took office, faced increased pressure in recent weeks to do more as record-levels of Venezuelan migrants poured into the country from Mexico, prompting an uproar among lawmakers on Capitol Hill.

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Previously, thousands of unlawful Venezuelans in the U.S. were granted temporary protection from deportation due to strained relations with their country's authoritarian government, which has been cited for decades of strife and humanitarian abuses.

More than 7 million Venezuelans fled their South American homeland in recent years to escape constant social and political upheaval.

Administration officials urged Venezuelans to pursue legal pathways to citizenship, such as sponsorship programs or by presenting themselves for documentation at official ports of entry.

In March 2021, the administration granted Venezuelans Temporary Protected Status, which allowed more than 500,000 Venezuelan migrants to apply for deportation protection and work eligibility.

Nationwide, Democratic officials -- including New York City Mayor Eric Adams and New York Gov. Kathy Hochul -- called on Biden to step up the federal response as thousands of migrants were weighing down their cities and states at a substantial cost to taxpayers.

The administration answered the call in September, extending asylum protections to hundreds of thousands of Venezuelans for another 18 months, allowing them to work and support their families while awaiting final word on their immigration status.

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