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International News: Venezuelan migrant crisis: More than seven million have left home since 2015, but the U.S. expels hundreds to Mexico under new plan

Posted: Wednesday, October 19, 2022. 9:47 pm CST.

By Aaron Humes: The United Nations reports that more than seven million Venezuelans have left their homeland since 2015 amid an ongoing economic and political crisis, according to new data, the BBC reports.

Despite their new challenges, the exodus has not let up and according to David Miliband, president of the International Rescue Committee, the resulting crisis is shaking Latin America but risks being swept under the rug compared to competing priorities including Ukraine, Afghanistan and East Africa.

Venezuela’s population has fallen from 30.08 million in 2015 to an estimated 28.25 million now based on the latest UN figures.

One exile says that while Venezuelans’ reasons for leaving are manifold – ranging from seeking access to health care and education, which have collapsed in many parts of Venezuela, to searching for employment – many face the same difficulties once they arrive.

While most Venezuelans have headed to Colombia, Peru and Ecuador, a growing number are embarking on an even more dangerous trek: north across the jungle expanse known as the Darién Gap to Panama and beyond.

Many bring with them impressive skills and a hunger to work and aid agencies are calling for authorities to do more for them.

This week, however, according to Reuters, hundreds of Venezuelan migrants were expelled to Mexico from the United States under a new policy over the past week, overwhelming shelters in border cities and leaving families without a place to stay.

Under a bilateral plan announced on Wednesday, Washington said it would grant up to 24,000 Venezuelans humanitarian access to the United States by air while enabling U.S. officials to expel to Mexico those caught trying to cross illegally by land.

Ciudad Juarez, next to El Paso, has taken most migrants, with over 1,000 people, followed by Tijuana, opposite San Diego, with close to 700, according to local officials.

Venezuelans are also being sent to the smaller border cities of Matamoros, Nogales and Piedras Negras, under the U.S. plan to curb a sharp increase in migrant traffic this year from the economically battered South American country.

Mexico, meanwhile, is worried many Venezuelans are still heading north to reach the U.S. border, a Mexican official said.

 

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