Mexico (AFP) – Luis, the head of a Venezuelan family who arrived in Mexico City, shrugs his shoulders resignedly: “With that change that they (the United States) made and what, it seems that we are going to stay here.”
His initial plan was to take his family, three adults and four children, to the northern border and try to cross to seek asylum.
But on the way, this 48-year-old father of a family, who asked to omit his last name, found out that last Wednesday Washington modified its immigration policy and now Venezuelans must arrive by air after obtaining a permit.
The family had no choice but to spend the night, under intense rain and cold, outside the government Refugee Aid Commission (Comar) in an attempt to regularize their situation to remain in Mexico.
“That they help us who are in a family, give us at least a permit to be able to work, enroll the children in school. Everything a person needs: health, work, education,” he said.
Dozens of Venezuelans, some of them returned from the United States, lined up Tuesday outside Comar, covered in thick clothing and blankets on the cold morning.
Along with the new policies of the United States, Mexico agreed to receive, for humanitarian reasons, Venezuelans who seek to cross by land and is now preparing to grant refuge to those who request it.
According to the new directives of the United States, 24,000 Venezuelans will be received, but those who have entered Mexico or Panama illegally will not be able to aspire to this benefit.
Andrés Ramírez, general coordinator of Comar, told the Milenio television station that this year they expect to have 10,000 applications, which will be a historical maximum.
Eduardo Rodríguez, a 43-year-old Venezuelan who has lived in Mexico since 2011, came to Comar to bring clothes to his compatriots, whom he encourages to stay in this country.
“If they have to stay in Mexico, since there is plenty of opportunity, let them stay,” he says.
According to UN figures, since 2015 more than six million Venezuelans have left their country, mired in a deep political and economic crisis.
As soon as the new immigration measures came into force, the United States began to return Venezuelans to Mexico, who remain in border cities where they have staged some protests.
Thousands more are stranded in the town of San Pedro Tapanatepec, in Oaxaca (south), awaiting an immigration document to travel through Mexico.
The Mexican government of Andrés Manuel López Obrador began requesting a visa from Venezuelans as of last January, which pushed thousands to try to cross the country clandestinely or in caravans seeking to reach the United States.