Hundreds of Venezuelans – and migrants of other nationalities as well – are arriving in the United States across the Mexican border in search of asylum. Some turn themselves in with immigration authorities, do their fear credible interview with an asylum officer, then go to detention centers and for months must wait for their hearings with immigration judges to see whether or not they win their asylum case and can get a bond to leave. However, there is another reality: many of them do not apply for asylum and are subject to deportation.
“Since two weeks ago, specifically, the “deporters” at the immigration headquarters in Washington D. C. informed immigration attorneys that, effectively, they are going to start the deportation of Venezuelans,” said María Herrera Mellado, an immigration lawyer, who also has a vast experience in the border areas handling cases of migrants who try to reach the United States by crossing the border with Mexico, in an interview with El American.
Herrera Mellado not only talked about the process of deportation of Venezuelans from the United States, she also explained the difficulties in obtaining political asylum, the border crisis and made useful recommendations to those who want to enter the country by crossing the border illegally.
Deporting recent arrivals
The immigration expert explained that the current administration’s decision “took everyone by surprise,” as it was expected that the government would be less severe with migrants. However, the current border crisis – which is due in large part to the pro-immigration rhetoric of Biden-Harris – is upsetting the initial plans of the Democratic administration.
El American also consulted him on the legality of the United States starting to deport Venezuelan migrants given that, before leaving office, Donald Trump approved the Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) for Venezuelans, which is an order that basically suspends deportations for 18 months. Likewise, Biden approved the Temporary Protected Status (TPS), which allows access to wider legal facilities for Venezuelans in the U.S.
The lawyer remarked that TPS and DED are, in effect, for Venezuelans who have been in the United States since before these measures were approved. Those who are arriving now or after the approval of the policies are not entitled to DED or TPS.
This is important, because many Venezuelans think that when they arrive in the United States, after making a very long journey and overcoming many dangers at the border with Mexico, they simply cannot be deported. “This is not the case,” explains Herrera.
“What happens is that both DED and TPS were approved as of January 20 and March 8, respectively. Since then, there has been a massive and irregular entry of Venezuelans in increasing numbers, who do not qualify for either DED or TPS. So, Venezuelans are subject to the same migration system as all other migrants.”
The lawyer added that Venezuelans who cross the border illegally and do not qualify for asylum would be deported directly to Venezuela, which also comes into a dispute with another issue: the United States has no deportation agreements with Venezuela. In fact, in 2019 the Trump administration banned commercial flights. Biden-Harris administration officials have not yet clarified how they will proceed with deportations.
El American was able to speak with a Venezuelan man who was recently deported after failing a credible means interview for asylum. The man, who asked for anonymity, said he was deported on a non-commercial flight and had previously made a stop in the Dominican Republic, one of the countries with which Venezuela still has commercial air deals.