IACHR observes impact of U.S. immigration measures on the rights of Venezuelans in human mobility

November 1, 2022

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Washington, D.C. - The Inter-American Commission welcomes the measures announced by the United States on October 12, 2022, to open humanitarian migration channels for Venezuelan nationals. At the same time, the IACHR is deeply concerned about the expansion of the application of restrictive measures that, in the context of the pandemic, gave room for summary expulsions of persons entering the United States. In this regard, it urges the State to guarantee that protection mechanisms are offered in a manner proportional to the large-scale movement of Venezuelan persons and to expand the scope of measures of access to territories and protection mechanisms.

According to the Department of Homeland Security, the process for Venezuelans has 24,000 slots available for eligible individuals who can demonstrate that they have a supporter in the United States who can provide financial and other support for up to two years. Once an individual arrives in the United States, they will be eligible to apply for employment authorizations. Individuals participating in this process must meet certain eligibility criteria to qualify for this process.

The IACHR takes note of the opening of important, regular migratory channels. At the same time, regarding the restrictive clauses on the migratory status of persons in transit in Central America, the IACHR notes that the imposition of such conditions may represent a risk of additional violations of the rights of these persons. According to information from the International Organization for Migration (IOM), within only two days before the implementation of the new measure, close to 4,000 people would have crossed the border area of the Darien Gap – the jungle that separates Colombia from Panama – enduring an eight-day journey characterized by violence and serious risks to their integrity.

The IACHR reiterates its deep concern over the humanitarian and human mobility crisis of Venezuelan persons in the region. According to information from the Interagency Platform for Migrants and Refugees from Venezuela (R4V) managed by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), there are about 7.1 million Venezuelans, including migrants and refugees, living outside Venezuela; as of September 2022, more than 5.9 million are in Latin America and the Caribbean. According to this source, the U.S. hosts about 545,000 of these people.

According to data from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the monthly average of apprehensions of Venezuelan nationals at the country's southwest land border totaled 15,494 in the last fiscal year, with an increase to more than 25,000 for the month of August and 33,000 for September. In comparison, there was a monthly average of 127 people encountered between fiscal years 2014-2019. Given this data, the IACHR highlights the inadequacy of the measures adopted through formal mobility channels in the face of the magnitude of the situation faced by Venezuelan persons in human mobility, in cross-border movements, especially at the southern border of the United States.

Considering the above, the IACHR expresses deep concern about the effects of the restrictive approach to generate a safe environment for human mobility and conditions for identifying and recognizing the human rights and protection needs of this population. It also highlights the continental dimensions of the humanitarian crisis in Venezuela and the need for coordinated and inclusive measures by OAS Member States to respond in an integrated manner to such protection demands.

In this context, the IACHR urges the United States to consider the dynamics of migratory movements and refugees originating from Venezuela in the formulation and implementation of protection measures. Further, it urges all States in the region to seek an integrated framework of cooperation, consistent with the rule of law, that responds to the protection needs of host and transit countries, in line with the Inter-American Principles on the Protection of Persons in Human Mobility, especially the principles of non-refoulement (Principle No. 06) and of prioritizing the protection of human rights in migration control policies and actions at borders (Principles No. 56 and No. 65).

The IACHR is a principal and autonomous organ of the Organization of American States (OAS), whose mandate derives from the OAS Charter and the American Convention on Human Rights. The Inter-American Commission is mandated to promote the observance and defense of human rights in the region and acts as a consultative body to the OAS in this area. The IACHR is composed of seven independent members who are elected by the OAS General Assembly in their personal capacity and do not represent their countries of origin or residence.

No. 243/22

5:49 PM