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US Immigration: Biden/Harris administration to resume direct deportation flights for Venezuelan migrants

The Biden-Harris administration announced on October 5, 2023, that the United States is resuming direct repatriation flights for Venezuelans who unlawfully cross the U.S. border and who “do not establish a legal basis to remain” in the country.

The Venezuelan government has agreed to take back deported migrants, a senior administration official said.

In March 2021, the Biden administration designated Venezuelan nationals who have been continuously physically present in the United States since before March 2021 eligible for temporary protected status (“TPS”), which allows them to stay in the country for 18 months without fear of deportation and provides them with the right to obtain work authorization.  The registration period was extended in August 2021, and the 18-month TPS maximum time was extended in September 2022 for another 18 months, through March 10, 2024.The administration has denied that resuming deportation flights contradicted the decision to grant TPS status to certain Venezuelan migrants.

“We as a matter of policy and as a matter of historical practice continue to remove individuals to countries that have TPS designations after the date of the TPS designation,” a senior administration official said.

The U.S. has already identified people in federal custody who arrived after July 2023 and has clarified that those individuals will be removed from the US shortly.

In announcing the TPS status for Venezuelans last month, Alejandro Mayorkas, Homeland Security Secretary, said “it is critical that Venezuelans understand that those who have arrived here after July 31, 2023, are not eligible for such protection and instead will be removed when they are found to not have a legal basis to stay.” Most recently, when announcing the repatriation, Mayorkas has stated that they have “made a determination that it is safe to return Venezuelan nationals who have arrived in the United States subsequent to July 31 and do not have a legal basis to remain here.”

The Department of Homeland Security said in a statement that the announcement comes after “high-level discussions on October 5 in Mexico City between the United States, Mexico, Colombia, and Panama,” where Mayorkas, Secretary of State Antony Blinken and other leaders “discussed ongoing coordinated efforts to address irregular migration in the Western Hemisphere.”

U.S. Customs and Border Protection announced on October 4, 2023 that in one day it had encountered 6,500 migrants from Venezuela, the most common nationality of migrants trying to cross the border.

For more information, the State Department has issued a press release: United States to Resume Removals of Venezuelans Who Do Not Have a Legal Basis to Remain in the United States to Venezuela. The State Department announced the extension and redesignation for Venezuelan TPS last month: Secretary Mayorkas Announces Extension and Redesignation of Venezuela for Temporary Protected Status.

Should you have any questions on the above, please contact Mairin Hoban ([email protected]) or Aryanah Eghbal ([email protected]).


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