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Press Release // Immigration and Asylum

LIRS Condemns DHS Decision to Resume Removals of Venezuelan Migrants to Venezuela

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LIRS Staff

October 6, 2023

October 5, 2023
Contact: Jason Lucas | | 240-717-4421

Washington D.C. – Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service is deeply disturbed by the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS’s) announcement today that it will resume removing Venezuelan migrants attempting to cross between ports of entry and returning them to Venezuela. The decision comes just two weeks after the Biden administration designated Temporary Protected Status for the country, citing “increased instability and lack of safety due to the enduring humanitarian, security, political, and environmental conditions.” To date, turmoil in Venezuela has resulted in more than 7.7 million people fleeing the country, making it the largest displacement crisis in the Western Hemisphere.

The resumption of removal flights to Venezuela is the latest in a slew of deterrence policies implemented or announced by the Biden administration, including new border wall construction, expedited family deportation, asylum restrictions, and funding for Panama to carry out removals.

The following is a statement by Krish O’Mara Vignarajah, President and CEO of Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service:

“Returning thousands of Venezuelans to the same unimaginably dangerous conditions they just fled is a profoundly problematic policy for the world’s humanitarian leader to adopt. Unfortunately, removals of vulnerable people to peril have not been rare under the Biden administration, as evidenced by the continued deportation of Haitians to a veritable humanitarian catastrophe in their homeland.

This decision further exposes troubling policy inconsistencies from the administration. Just two weeks ago, officials deemed Venezuela patently unsafe for deportations of anyone who had arrived prior to August; however, the dire circumstances on the ground have certainly not changed in such a short interval.

The fact remains that seeking asylum is a legal right, and those exercising it are courageous, resilient people doing what it takes for themselves and their families to survive. Displaced individuals and families deserve more than the continued erosion of human rights at our border, whether that be the administration’s construction of new border wall, asylum eligibility restrictions, expedited removals of families, or efforts to outsource deterrence schemes to Mexico and Panama.

While the challenge of managing migration is very complex, this administration continues to lean too heavily on the stick over the carrot. We urge policy makers to reject the same failed deterrence policies of the past three decades, and instead focus on building humanitarian infrastructure that can process asylum seekers with dignity, due process, and humanity. The American people are ready and eager to welcome these newcomers as their neighbors, friends, co-workers, and ultimately, as their extended family members.”

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