Venezuela Blocks Flights Carrying Deported Migrants From US, Mexico

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by Tyler Durden
Thursday, Feb 22, 2024 - 07:25 PM

Venezuela has blocked flights of migrants deported from the United States and Mexico, undermining one of the few policies the Biden administration had recently embraced to deal with record levels of illegal immigration, according to the Wall Street Journal, citing people familiar with the measures.

The 'almost weekly' flights from the US to Veneuela were halted in late January according to US officials, marking the longest pause in repatriation since the two countries announced a landmark deal to restart deportations in October - after roughly 1,800 Venezuelans were returned home on 15 flights. As the Journal notes, this is but a fraction of the nearly 500,000 Venezuelans detained at the southern US border over the past two years.

In short, the move gets in the way of the Biden administration pretending they've been taking action, and now gives them something to blame.

The flights to Venezuela were intended to send a signal to migrants that they would face significant deportation risks if they crossed the border illegally, potentially easing some of the pressure on President Biden, whose poll ratings are suffering ahead of November’s presidential election because of the immigration issue. A similar measure was effective in curtailing a surge of Haitian migrants aiming to sneak into the U.S. last year. 

Biden administration officials say that the U.S. government has other mechanisms to deport migrants back to Venezuela, including commercial flights. -WSJ

According to the US Department of Homeland Security - which is suddenly talking tough on immigration ahead of the November election after presiding over the largest illegal migration in US history, they'll still 'do their job.'

"If Venezuelan migrants do not avail themselves of lawful pathways, they are subject to removal" to places like Mexico, said a spokeswoman.

One person familiar with the measures noted that there are no direct commercial flights between the two countries, while Mexican authorities refuse to deport Venezuelans on commercial flights.

According to Tom Cartright, who tracks deportation flight data for US immigration advocacy group Witness at the Border, if there are no government-run deportation flights back to Venezuela, "it stands out that there’s no ability to deport Venezuelans back to Venezuela." (duh!)

In January, Venezuela said that it would stop accepting deportees from the US after the Biden administration reimposed limited economic sanctions against Caracas over alleged failures to adhere to loose pledges to restore democratic order and move towards 'fair' presidential elections.

The move leaves the US more dependent on Mexico and Panama enforcing migration - as both countries have a constant flood of Venezuelans, Guatemalans and others on their northward trek for Biden Bucks.

And with Mexico unable to deport detailed Venezuelans, authorities have been flying them to southern Mexico to try again.

An estimated 7.7 million Venezuelans have left the country since President Nicolás Maduro took office in 2013.