Statement from Refugees International Director for the Americas and Europe Yael Schacher:
Over the past week, the Biden administration has pursued migration policies that are likely to put people directly into harm’s way – particularly Venezuelans, almost 8 million of whom have left dire conditions in Venezuela and are mostly living in countries throughout Latin America. One proposed new policy would, for the first time, divert foreign assistance to fund deportations by another country – in this case Panama – without sufficient safeguards against risk of refoulement.
The Biden administration has also announced that it will begin directly repatriating Venezuelans who “cross [the U.S.] border unlawfully and do not establish a legal basis to remain.” This stands starkly at odds with the administration’s recent announcement that “extraordinary and temporary conditions…prevent Venezuelan nationals from returning in safety due to a severe humanitarian emergency which has resulted in food insecurity and the inability to access adequate medicine, healthcare, water, electricity, and fuel. Additionally, human rights violations and abuses, high levels of poverty, high levels of crime and violence, and heavy rains and flooding prevent Venezuelan nationals from returning in safety.”
Both of these announced policies will likely lead to unsafe returns. They also set dangerous precedents for the future and for host countries in Latin America where the vast majority of Venezuelan migrants and refugees reside. Refugees International urges the Biden administration to reverse course and urges Congress to prevent the use of foreign assistance funds for deportations.