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Mexico: Migrants cross after new rules for Venezuela

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MEXICO CITY — Mexico said Friday that border crossings by Venezuelans appear to be decreasing after new U.S. rules on deporting people from the South American nation who arrive by land.

The comments came as the Mexican government held joint exercises with Guatemala on migration control.

Officials from Mexico and Guatemala met at a bridge over the Suchiate River that separates the two countries to discuss information sharing and best practices. Even as the official event unfolded, migrants continued to cross the river below on inner tube rafts, but most soon surrendered to officers on the Mexican side.

Yet Arturo Rocha, an official with Mexico’s foreign relations department, estimated that the number of Venezuelans crossing the US border had fallen by 90% and the number crossing the dangerous Darien Gap between Colombia and Panama had fallen by 80%. .

The Biden administration announced a new program last week that would accept up to 24,000 Venezuelan migrants at US airports. Mexico, meanwhile, has agreed to take back Venezuelans who come illegally to the United States by land.

Rocha wrote in a newspaper column that about 7,500 applications had been received for the new program.

Until now, Mexico had granted Venezuelans and other migrants short-term transit passes that allowed them to reach a town further inland in Mexico, San Pedro Tapanatepec, where they could wait more formal visas.

Thousands of migrants had gathered in San Pedro Tapanatepec waiting for these papers, which many had already used to continue to the US border.

But on Friday, Héctor Martínez Castuera, coordinating director of Mexico’s National Immigration Institute, said visas would no longer be issued in San Pedro Tapanatepec. Instead, Mexican authorities had set up a migrant shelter to care for anyone waiting there.

“We have set up a shelter there, a big shelter to accommodate migrants, but at the moment we are not distributing any immigration forms,” he said.

Martínez Castuera said migrants could try to get papers to stay in Mexico or return to Venezuela. He said Mexico was considering helping some returns, as “many Venezuelans want,” but the issue was complicated.

Many Venezuelans who were on their way to the United States when the new rules were announced are now in Mexico unsure of what to do next.

washingtonpost

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