US migrant policy ‘bucket of cold water’ to some Venezuelans

Oct 13, 2022, 9:01 PM | Updated: Oct 14, 2022, 5:41 am
Venezuela migrants walk to a boat that will take them to Acandi, from Necocli, Colombia, Thursday, ...

Venezuela migrants walk to a boat that will take them to Acandi, from Necocli, Colombia, Thursday, Oct. 13, 2022. Some Venezuelans are reconsidering their journey to the U.S. after the U.S. government announced on Oct. 12 that Venezuelans who walk or swim across the border will be immediately returned to Mexico without rights to seek asylum. (AP Photo/Fernando Vergara)

(AP Photo/Fernando Vergara)

NECOCLI, Colombia (AP) — Venezuelan Gilbert Fernández still plans to cross the dangerous Darien jungle into Panama and head toward the United States over land, despite a U.S. announcement that it will grant conditional humanitarian permits only to 24,000 Venezuelan migrants arriving by air.

“The news hit us like a bucket of cold water,” Fernández said Thursday, a day after the announcement, which also stated that Venezuelans arriving by land at the Mexico-U.S. border would be returned to Mexico.

Fernández spoke to The Associated Press on a beach in Necocli, a Colombian town where about 9,000 people, mostly Venezuelans, waited to board a boat to take them to the entrance of the Darien Gap connecting the South American country to Panama. From there, migrants head by land up Central America through Mexico toward the U.S.

Some on the Colombian beach said they would seek other routes into the United States or give up the voyage after hearing the news. Critics noted that the announced number of humanitarian visas is just a fraction of the number of Venezuelans seeking to enter the United States.

But for Fernández it was too late to turn back. He said he sold his car and his land in Venezuela to finance the trip with his 18-year-old son and his friends, and he no longer has money for a plane ticket to the U.S.

“Those of us who have already started, how are we going to do that?” he wondered. “We are already involved in this.”

The U.S. and Mexico said Wednesday that the Biden administration agreed to accept up to 24,000 Venezuelan migrants at U.S. airports while Mexico agreed to take back Venezuelans who come to the U.S. over land.

Venezuelans who walk or swim across the border will be immediately returned to Mexico under a pandemic rule known as Title 42 authority, which suspends rights to seek asylum under U.S. and international law on grounds of preventing the spread of COVID-19.

The U.S. offer to the Venezuelans is modeled on a similar program for Ukrainians who fled Russia’s invasion.

The moves are a response to a dramatic increase in migration from Venezuela, which surpassed Guatemala and Honduras in August to become the second largest nationality arriving at the U.S. border after Mexico.

So far in 2022, more than 151,000 people have crossed into Panama through the jungle, the majority — 107,600 — Venezuelans. That already exceeds the 133,000 people who crossed in the previous year, according to official Panamanian figures. The trip through the inhospitable jungle is fraught with dangers, including thieves, human traffickers and the possibility of sexual assault. Armed groups operate in the region.

Arrests of Venezuelans at the U.S. border also have increased. Authorities detained Venezuelans 25,349 times in August, making them the second most detained nationality at the border, after Mexicans.

For some, the offer of 24,000 humanitarian visas is not enough given the dimensions of Venezuela’s migration situation, and many consider the conditions on those visas too difficult.

María Clara Robayo, an investigator for the Venezuelan Observatory at Colombia’s Del Rosario University, said the flow of migrants through the Darien Gap might be reduced a bit but won’t stop.

“People will continue exposing themselves to precarious situations” crossing the jungle, she said.

Jeremy Villegas arrived in Necocli in a group of 30 people, most of whom are turning back or looking for other routes. He said he is still undecided and is waiting to hear from people who are farther along the route to know if it is worth the risk.

Cristian Casamayor said he has decided to stop his journey through the Darien after hearing of the new U.S. policy.

“I stopped out of awareness and being smart … they mark your passport and you can no longer enter the United States,” he said, adding that he has not decided where he will go now. All he knows is that he will not return to Venezuela.

Mario Ricardo Camejo, a member of the nonprofit Colombian-Venezuelan foundation Fundacolven, said that while they appreciate any help and humanitarian visas from countries like the U.S., they worry the help comes with conditions that make it difficult on the poorest migrants. For example, having to arrive by plane and having a financial sponsor.

“Automatically, a filter is created that ensures the help does not reach the people who need it most,” Camejo said.

Of the more than 7.1 million Venezuelans who have left their country due to the social and economic crisis, at least 4.3 million have difficulties accessing food, housing and formal employment, according to a report released Wednesday by the International Organization for Migration and the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees.

Venezuelans back in that country’s capital agreed the new rules will hurt.

“The people who leave by land have no money, no visa, no family there” in the United States, José Santana said in Caracas’ central plaza. “It is useless for them to say that they are going to let many enter by plane.”

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


              Venezuelan migrant Cristian Casamayor, second from left, arrives to Necocli, Colombia with fellow Venezuelan migrants after they decided against crossing the Darien Gap and returned from Acandi, Thursday, Oct. 13, 2022. Some Venezuelans are reconsidering their journey to the U.S. after the U.S. announced on Oct. 12 that Venezuelans who walk or swim across the border will be immediately returned to Mexico without rights to seek asylum. (AP Photo/Fernando Vergara)
            
              A Venezuelan migrant checks her cellphone as she waits for a boat to take her to Acandi, from in Necocli, Colombia, Thursday, Oct. 13, 2022. The U.S. announced on Oct. 12, that Venezuelans who walk or swim across the border will be immediately returned to Mexico without rights to seek asylum. (AP Photo/Fernando Vergara)
            
              Venezuela migrants rest on a hammock for the night as they wait for a boat to take them to Acandi, from in Necocli, Colombia, Thursday, Oct. 13, 2022. The U.S. announced on Oct. 12, that Venezuelans who walk or swim across the border will be immediately returned to Mexico without rights to seek asylum. (AP Photo/Fernando Vergara)
            
              Venezuelan migrants are stopped by the National Guard at an army checkpoint on the road to Tonala, Chiapas state, Mexico, Wednesday, Oct. 5, 2022. The Biden administration has agreed to accept up to 24,000 Venezuelan migrants at U.S. airports, while Mexico has agreed to take back Venezuelans who come to the U.S. illegally over land. Effective immediately, those who walk or swim across the border will be immediately returned to Mexico under a pandemic rule known as Title 42 authority, which suspends rights to seek asylum under U.S. and international law on grounds of preventing the spread of COVID-19. (AP Photo/Marco Ugarte)
            
              A Venezuelan migrant washes clothes in Necocli, Colombia, a stopping point for migrants taking boats to Acandi which leads to the Darien Gap, Thursday, Oct. 13, 2022. Some Venezuelans are reconsidering their journey to the U.S. after the U.S. government announced on Oct. 12 that Venezuelans who walk or swim across the border will be immediately returned to Mexico without rights to seek asylum. (AP Photo/Fernando Vergara)
            
              A Venezuelan migrant cooks rice and ham over a portable gas stove in Necocli, Colombia, a stopping point for migrants taking boats to Acandi which leads to the Darien Gap, Thursday, Oct. 13, 2022. Some Venezuelans are reconsidering their journey to the U.S. after the U.S. government announced on Oct. 12 that Venezuelans who walk or swim across the border will be immediately returned to Mexico without rights to seek asylum. (AP Photo/Fernando Vergara)
            
              Venezuela migrant Yusney Velandia and her child watch boats that carry migrants to Acandi from Necocli, Colombia, Thursday, Oct. 13, 2022, as she considers continuing her journey north. Some Venezuelans are reconsidering their journey to the U.S. after the U.S. government announced on Oct. 12 that Venezuelans who walk or swim across the border will be immediately returned to Mexico without rights to seek asylum. (AP Photo/Fernando Vergara)
            
              Venezuela migrants walk to a boat that will take them to Acandi, from Necocli, Colombia, Thursday, Oct. 13, 2022. Some Venezuelans are reconsidering their journey to the U.S. after the U.S. government announced on Oct. 12 that Venezuelans who walk or swim across the border will be immediately returned to Mexico without rights to seek asylum. (AP Photo/Fernando Vergara)
            A Venezuelan migrant carries his shoes around his neck before crossing toward the United States border to surrender to the border patrol, in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, Thursday, Oct. 13, 2022. The U.S. announced on Oct. 12, that Venezuelans who walk or swim across the border will be immediately returned to Mexico without rights to seek asylum. (AP Photo/Christian Chavez) Venezuelan migrants stand on the Mexican side of the border after rafting across the Suchiate river, the border between Guatemala and Mexico, near Ciudad Hidalgo, Chiapas state, Mexico, Tuesday, Oct. 4, 2022. The Biden administration has agreed to accept up to 24,000 Venezuelan migrants at U.S. airports, while Mexico has agreed to take back Venezuelans who come to the U.S. illegally over land. Effective immediately, those who walk or swim across the border will be immediately returned to Mexico under a pandemic rule known as Title 42 authority, which suspends rights to seek asylum under U.S. and international law on grounds of preventing the spread of COVID-19. (AP Photo/Marco Ugarte) Migrants, mostly from Venezuela, arrive at a camp where Mexican authorities will arrange permits for their continued travel north, in San Pedro Tapanatepec, Oaxaca, Mexico Wednesday, Oct. 5, 2022. The Biden administration has agreed to accept up to 24,000 Venezuelan migrants at U.S. airports, while Mexico has agreed to take back Venezuelans who come to the U.S. illegally over land. Effective immediately, those who walk or swim across the border will be immediately returned to Mexico under a pandemic rule known as Title 42 authority, which suspends rights to seek asylum under U.S. and international law on grounds of preventing the spread of COVID-19. (AP Photo/Marco Ugarte) Venezuelan migrants cross the Suchiate river, the border between Guatemala and Mexico, near Ciudad Hidalgo, Chiapas state, Mexico, Tuesday, Oct. 4, 2022. The Biden administration has agreed to accept up to 24,000 Venezuelan migrants at U.S. airports, while Mexico has agreed to take back Venezuelans who come to the U.S. illegally over land. Effective immediately, those who walk or swim across the border will be immediately returned to Mexico under a pandemic rule known as Title 42 authority, which suspends rights to seek asylum under U.S. and international law on grounds of preventing the spread of COVID-19. (AP Photo/Marco Ugarte) Tents of Venezuelan migrants are seen in Necocli, Colombia, a stopping point for migrants taking boats to Acandi which leads to the Darien Gap, Thursday, Oct. 13, 2022. Some Venezuelans are reconsidering their journey to the U.S. after the U.S. government announced on Oct. 12 that Venezuelans who walk or swim across the border will be immediately returned to Mexico without rights to seek asylum. (AP Photo/Fernando Vergara) A Venezuelan girl holding her doll walks to a boat that will carry her and other migrants to Acandi, from Necocli, Colombia, Thursday, Oct. 13, 2022. Some Venezuelans are reconsidering their journey to the U.S. after the U.S. government announced on Oct. 12 that Venezuelans who walk or swim across the border will be immediately returned to Mexico without rights to seek asylum. (AP Photo/Fernando Vergara)

AP

Associated Press

Qatar Airways, Airbus reach settlement in A350 legal case

LONDON (AP) — Qatar Airways and Airbus have reached a settlement in a longstanding legal dispute over the safety of the A350 jetliner and billions of orders for other planes. The companies said in a joint statement Wednesday that the settlement was “amicable and mutually agreeable.” “A repair project is now underway and both parties […]
11 hours ago
FILE - A Rivian logo is shown on one of the company's electric pickup trucks, Dec. 15, 2021, in Atl...
Associated Press

FedEx, Rivian, DraftKings join US companies cutting jobs

FedEx, Rivian Automotive, and DraftKings have joined a growing list of U.S. corporations announcing job cuts. FedEx sent an announcement to employees Wednesday informing them that the package delivery company is reducing the size of its officer and director team by more than 10% and consolidating some teams and functions. “Unfortunately, this was a necessary […]
11 hours ago
FILE - Boxes of the drug mifepristone sit on a shelf at the West Alabama Women's Center in Tuscaloo...
Associated Press

20 attorneys general warn Walgreens, CVS over abortion pills

ST. LOUIS (AP) — Attorneys general in 20 conservative-led states warned CVS and Walgreens on Wednesday that they could face legal consequences if they sell abortion pills by mail in those states. A letter from Republican Missouri Attorney General Andrew Bailey to the nation’s largest pharmacy-dispensing companies was co-signed by 19 other attorneys general, warning […]
11 hours ago
Apple senior vice president of services Eddy Cue, right, speaks next to Major League Soccer Commiss...
Associated Press

Apple embraces potential of sports streaming with MLS deal

CUPERTINO, Calif. (AP) — After taking its first dip into sports streaming last year, Apple is now immersing itself. The tech giant kicked off a 10-year partnership with Major League Soccer on Wednesday with the launch of Season Pass on Apple TV+. “This is very important for us. It is one of the key things […]
11 hours ago
FILE - Zoubin Ghahramani, vice president of research at Google, speaks at the Google AI@ event on W...
Associated Press

Google has the next move as Microsoft embraces OpenAI buzz

NEW YORK (AP) — Before the artificial intelligence tool ChatGPT was unleashed into the world, the novelist Robin Sloan was testing a similar AI writing assistant built by researchers at Google. It didn’t take long for Sloan, author of the bestseller “Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore,” to realize that the technology was of little use to […]
11 hours ago
Associated Press

Ukraine hails French gift of radar as ‘cherry on the cake’

LIMOURS, France (AP) — Ukraine’s defense minister said Wednesday that Ukrainian lives will be saved by a sophisticated air-defense radar that France is supplying and which is powerful enough to spot incoming missiles and exploding drones in the skies over all of Ukraine’s capital and its surrounding region. The minister, Oleksii Reznikov, was so enthusiastic […]
11 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

...
Quantum Fiber

How high-speed fiber internet edges out cable for everyday use

In a world where technology drives so much of our daily lives, a lack of high-speed internet can be a major issue.
(Desert Institute for Spine Care photo)...
DESERT INSTITUTE FOR SPINE CARE

Why DISC is world renowned for back and neck pain treatments

Fifty percent of Americans and 90% of people at least 50 years old have some level of degenerative disc disease.
...
Quantum Fiber

Stream 4K and more with powerful, high-speed fiber internet

Picking which streaming services to subscribe to are difficult choices, and there is no room for internet that cannot handle increased demands.
US migrant policy ‘bucket of cold water’ to some Venezuelans