On the US deportation of Venezuelan asylum seekers to Colombia

New York, NY, January 31, 2022 —The International Rescue Committee (IRC) responds to recent reports of the current US administration which launched flights to deport Venezuelan asylum seekers to Colombia.

Difficult living conditions in Venezuela – including hunger caused by economic collapse, the effects of COVID-19 and forced displacement by violence perpetrated by non-state armed actors – have caused the second largest displacement crisis outside the world, just after Syria. To date, around 6 million people have left the country, with Colombia becoming the main host for more than 1.8 million Venezuelans, followed by other Latin American countries, such as Peru or Ecuador.

Although most Venezuelans seek safety first in neighboring countries, over 350,000 have come to the United States seeking protection since 2014.

Olga Byrne, Director of Immigration for the IRC said:

“We regret the announcement of this measure to continue deporting asylum seekers seeking safety in the United States; is now taking a step further to send Venezuelans to Colombia. Despite commitments announced by the US administration in the first 100 days, harmful policies like Title 42 are still in place more than a year after he took office. Title 42 deportations deprive asylum seekers of due process, instead returning them to dangerous conditions, similar if not worse than those they escaped. In some cases, they send them to third countries, such as Colombia, which for years have stepped up to take in Venezuelan asylum seekers, despite overburdened national systems and insufficient support and funding from the international community.

“Under international and domestic law, people in need of protection have the legal right to seek asylum in the United States, even during a pandemic and given that public health experts have questioned the effectiveness of Title 42 as a measure to contain COVID-19. Additionally, the administration often raises its voice in support of asylum seekers and refugees around the world. We encourage policy makers to combine this rhetoric with actions that would also protect the rights of asylum seekers to seek safety within their borders.

“The IRC has long advocated for an end to harmful policies that block access to asylum, and for a protection-focused, community-based humanitarian reception program that guarantees asylum seekers a welcome. worthy; provides them with the resources they need to be safe and healthy while their security claims are adjudicated; and provides them with the legal support they need to ensure they are informed of their request.

In addition to a humanitarian welcome program in the United States, the IRC called for actions to address the crises driving displacement from and across Latin America, including:

The IEC has identified Venezuela as one of the 20 countries in the world most at risk of seeing their humanitarian situation deteriorate in 2022. More information on the challenges that Venezuelans will face in the coming year is available in the Emergency Watchlist 2022.

The work of the IRC

The IRC has been providing responsive humanitarian services to asylum seekers at the US-Mexico border since 2019 as part of a broader response in the region. Among its services, the IRC provides case management, humanitarian reception, and legal assistance to tens of thousands of asylum seekers, unaccompanied children, and others seeking protection in the United States each year. . The IRC has also strongly advocated for restoring access to the asylum system at the southern border of the United States, including through the cancellation of Title 42 and the termination of stay in Mexico.

In Latin America, the IRC responds across the arc of crisis: providing a population-based response to the Venezuelan crisis in Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and through local partners in Venezuela; support vulnerable people in northern Central America (Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador) and along the main migration corridors in Mexico, from southern to northern borders. After the earthquake that struck Haiti in August 2021, the IRC provided funds to support the work of local organizations implementing activities to meet priority needs.

IRC’s current programming in Latin America includes supporting the protection and empowerment of women, integrating the prevention and protection of women, girls and members of the LGBTQ+ community who have experienced gender-based violence ; economic recovery and development; primary, sexual and reproductive health; mental health and psychosocial support; cultural orientation; and access to essential information through InfoPa’lante in Colombia, CuentaNos in northern Central America and InfoDigna in Mexico, all part of the Global Signpost project.

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