In an attempt to stem the flow of illegal immigrants crossing the southern border, the Biden administration has quietly started sending Venezuelan migrants to Colombia if they previously resided there, two Homeland Security officials told CNN on Monday.
The political instability and humanitarian crisis in Venezuela in recent years has led to some six million people fleeing the country, with Customs and Border Protection encountering almost 25,000 Venezuelans on the U.S. southern border, last month compared with only about 200 in December 2020.
The intent of the flights of Venezuelans to Colombia is for the Biden administration to push those who make it to the U.S.-Mexico thousands of miles away from the possibility of claiming asylum in the United States, according to CNN.
While tens of thousands of migrants have been turned away at the southern border, some, such as South Americans, are not accepted by Mexico and therefore cannot be expelled.
Last Thursday, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) returned two Venezuelan nationals to Colombia, where they had previously lived, the department told CNN, adding that flights to Colombia are expected to take place "on a regular basis."
"As part of the United States COVID-19 mitigation efforts, DHS continues to enforce CDC's Title 42 public health authority with all individuals encountered at the Southwest border," DHS said in a statement. "However, DHS's ability to expel individuals may be limited for several reasons, including Mexico's ability and capacity to receive individuals of certain nationalities."
Title 42 refers to a public health authority in which authorities can quickly remove migrants encountered at the US southern border, effectively barring those wanting asylum from doing so and creating an unprecedented departure from previous protocol, CNN reported.
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