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Venezuela stops allowing US deport illegal immigrants

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Venezuela has stopped accepting flights of migrants deported from the U.S. and Mexico, while Venezuelan migrants in Chicago are allegedly committing crimes just to get a free ride back to their home country on the taxpayer’s dime.

According to a report in the Wall Street Journal, President Nicolás Maduro’s authoritarian regime is refusing to cooperate with deportation requests after Washington reimposed some of the economic sanctions it had previously lifted on Venezuela.

The move heaps more pressure on President Biden’s effort to manage the deepening crisis as it becomes a top issue in November’s presidential election. Former President Donald Trump has vowed to deport mass numbers of illegal aliens if elected.

A deal between the two countries in October to fly illegal Venezuelan migrants directly back to their home country was meant to be a signal from the White House that it was vigorously tackling the issue in the wake of mounting criticism. 

The deal saw the U.S. send around 1,800 Venezuelans on 15 flights, but the agreement was stalled last month and has now stopped, the Journal reports.

A man in shackles boards the first deportation flight of Venezuelans after a US-Venezuelan agreement

A man in shackles boards the first deportation flight of Venezuelans after a US-Venezuelan agreement in Harlingen, Texas, on October 18, 2023.  (VERONICA G. CARDENAS/AFP via Getty Images)

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The U.S. has lifted sanctions on Venezuela’s oil industry and other sectors, while Maduro’s regime agreed to allow elections later this year in the hope of reviving its economy. Venezuela has also asserted a claim to a resource-rich region of neighboring Guyana, drawing further warnings from the U.S., the Journal reports.

But last month Washington ordered a wind-down of all business transactions between U.S. entities and Venezuela’s state miner Minerven and said it would unwind its easing of energy sanctions if Maduro’s administration did not stick to the agreement and accept conditions for a fair presidential election. 

The South American country’s top court upheld a ban blocking the leading opposition hopeful, Maria Corina Machado, from the election.

The U.S. restored sanctions on Venezuela’s gold sector on February 13.

The flights were seen as a way of deterring Venezuelan migrants from making the treacherous journey to the U.S., as their chances of being deported would increase. A similar measure was effective in curtailing a surge of Haitian migrants aiming to get into the U.S. last year, the Journal reports.

Buses transporting migrants to board a deportation flight

Buses transporting migrants to board the first deportation flight of undocumented Venezuelans after a U.S.-Venezuelan agreement (VERONICA G. CARDENAS/AFP via Getty Images)

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However, the number of Venezuelans being deported represents only a fraction of those who have crossed the border illegally under the Biden administration.

Just over 830 Venezuelan border-crossers were reported in fiscal year 2023, which ended on September 30, according to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), despite 335,000 Venezuelan citizens being encountered by border authorities.

More than 201,000 of them were apprehended by Border Patrol agents after crossing illegally into the U.S. The rest were encountered at ports of entry, which would include CBP One app paroles into the U.S.

The news also comes as some Venezuelans are now admitting to committing crimes in Chicago as a way of being sent back to the South American country, according to CWB Chicago.

Two Venezuelan migrants recently arrested for committing different crimes in the Windy City told police they had turned to crime because they wanted to be sent back to Venezuela, the outlet reports, citing their CPD arrest reports.

Migrants cross razor wire in Texas

Groups of migrants of different nationalities arrive at the Rio Grande on February 19, 2024. (Christian Torres/Anadolu via Getty Images)

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Migrant Dhian Gomez-Mendoza told authorities that he is so desperate to go back to Venezuela that he will “do whatever it takes, if that is beating up a police officer or hurting a civilian, he will do it.”

Gomez-Mendoza made the claims after he was arrested at O’Hare International Airport on February 7 for screaming and yelling while running in and out of Terminal 3. When they asked him to leave, he fell to his knees and threw his hands into the air declaring that he was desperate to return home, CWB Chicago reports. 

The following day, he was arrested at Midway International Airport, where police said he kicked and damaged the fender of their Segway as they escorted him out of the employee parking lot.

Another migrant, Jhoni Montes, was arrested at Macy’s, 111 North State, on February 9 for trying to shoplift three suitcases worth over $1,600 with another person. While being charged with retail theft, he told officers, he was “stealing to go back to Venezuela,” according to CWB Chicago, citing his arrest report.

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