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

Medical workers in protective overalls walk past a line outside the fever clinic of a hospital in B...
Associated Press

China struggles with COVID infections after controls ease

BEIJING (AP) — A rash of COVID-19 cases in schools and businesses were reported by social media users Friday in areas across China after the ruling Communist Party loosened anti-virus rules as it tries to reverse a deepening economic slump. Official data showed a fall in new cases, but those no longer cover big parts […]
1 hour ago
FILE - Ukraine Finance Minister Serhiy Marchenko walks outside of the International Monetary Fund (...
Associated Press

Helping Ukraine is ‘self-preservation,’ finance chief says

FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) — Ukraine’s finance minister says crucial Western financial support is “not charity” but “self-preservation” in the fight to defend democracy as his country deals with growing costs to repair electrical and heating infrastructure wrecked by Russian attacks. Serhiy Marchenko also told The Associated Press in an interview Thursday from Kyiv that he […]
1 hour ago
People walk by monitors showing an exchange rate of the Japanese yen against the U.S. dollar at a s...
Associated Press

Asian shares advance on back of Wall Street gains

BANGKOK (AP) — Shares rose in Asia on Friday after an advance on Wall Street led by the latest rally in technology companies. Chinese benchmarks rose on reports the government is planning new measures to support the ailing property sector, which has dragged on growth over the past several years. The relaxation of some of […]
1 hour ago
A general view of pupils during lunch hour at Hillstone Primary School, in Birmingham, England, Wed...
Associated Press

UK cost-of-living woes stir push for more free school meals

BIRMINGHAM, England (AP) — As the school bell rings, dozens of children begin filing into the canteen at Hillstone Primary School. The day’s offering, a roast dinner, is a popular one, and many are eager to tuck into their plates of turkey slices, roasted potatoes, broccoli and gravy. For some children in this area of […]
1 hour ago
Cargo trucks move into a port in Busan, South Korea, Friday, Dec. 9, 2022. Thousands of South Korea...
Associated Press

South Korean truckers end 16-day strike over freight rates

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — Thousands of South Korean truckers are returning to work after voting Friday to end their 16-day walkout that disrupted construction and other domestic industries. Thousands of truckers seeking financial protections as fuel prices rise went on strike Nov. 24. The government took aggressive steps to minimize interruptions such as by […]
1 hour ago
FILE - Space flight participant Yusaku Maezawa attends a news conference ahead of the expedition to...
Associated Press

K-pop star among 8 to join Japan tycoon Maezawa’s moon trip

TOKYO (AP) — Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa said Friday that K-Pop star T.O.P. will be among the eight people who will join him on a flyby around the moon on a SpaceX spaceship next year. The Japanese tycoon launched plans for the lunar voyage in 2018, buying all the seats on the spaceship. He began […]
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

...
Children’s Cancer Network

Children’s Cancer Network celebrates cancer-fighting superheroes, raises funds during September’s Childhood Cancer Awareness Month

Jace Hyduchak was like most other kids in his kindergarten class: He loved to play basketball, dress up like his favorite superheroes and jump as high as his pint-sized body would take him on his backyard trampoline.
...
Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Here are 4 signs the HVAC unit needs to be replaced

Pool renovations and kitchen upgrades may seem enticing, but at the forefront of these investments arguably should be what residents use the most. In a state where summertime is sweltering, access to a functioning HVAC unit can be critical.
...
Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Ways to prevent clogged drains and what to do if you’re too late

While there are a variety of ways to prevent clogged drains, it's equally as important to know what to do when you're already too late.
US migrant policy ‘bucket of cold water’ to some Venezuelans