Estefania Villarroel still does not believe that in such a short time she was able to reunite with her family in the United States. The Venezuelan was one of the first four people authorized to enter the country through the humanitarian parole program that opened their applications on October 18.
“It was super fast, it only took three days, and on the third day I had my travel authorization,” said the Venezuelan who entered the country last Saturday from Mexico. Her sister, who is her legal sponsor, submitted the application on October 20.
In an interview with the voice of americaDespite her nerves, Villarroel said upon arrival at the Miami, Florida airport, the process went quickly, after being questioned for a short time by customs officials.
Now, reunited with her sister and her boyfriend in the city of Orlando, she hopes to start working soon, using the work authorization for two years. “I feel very grateful to this country that opened its doors to me,” she expressed with emotion.
As reported by the Department of Homeland Security on Saturday, the first four Venezuelans to arrive by air in the United States traveled from Mexico, Guatemala and Peru.
In the statement, the DHS indicated that “hundreds of Venezuelan individuals” have already been reviewed and approved to legally travel to the country.
At least a dozen applications have been accepted, according to the count made by the VOA independently through interviews with beneficiaries.
The United States Immigration Service responded to the VOA who is still reviewing the number of requests they have received in the first week of the program.
“Illegal entry” has been reduced
The government of President Joe Biden aspires to benefit 24,000 Venezuelans under the only legal route that he has provided for the citizens of the South American nation.
The measure seeks to restrict irregular entry through the southern border, through which 187,716 people of that nationality entered during fiscal year 2022, according to the most recent data from the Border Patrol.
Official figures show that the irregular entry of Venezuelans increased by 293% between fiscal year 2021 and 2022, while that of all other nationalities combined by 45%.
According to the DHS analysis, the measure announced on October 12 “has already reduced the illegal entry of Venezuelans at our border by more than 85%, showing that when there is an orderly and legal way, people will be less inclined to put their lives in the hands of smugglers.”
Under the new regulations, Venezuelans who enter irregularly will be immediately deported to Mexico.
In that country, thousands of Venezuelan migrants in transit have taken different paths: some applied to the humanitarian parole process and await a response, while others gave up and left the country for Venezuela.
In Guatemala, an average of 200 Venezuelan migrants gather daily in search of help to return to their country, according to the diplomatic representation of the opposition Juan Guaidó in that country.
“We are collapsed, but giving safe conduct and voluntary letters to leave the country so that our Venezuelan brothers can return to Venezuela or wherever they reside, particularly in Colombia and Chile,” Romero wrote on his Instagram account.
The application of the rule by Mexico and the United States has been widely criticized by migrant advocacy groups, including Human Rights Watch.
For the organization, “the abusive policy of border expulsion” violates international law, and the legal path provided “includes restrictions that will prevent many from accessing protection.”
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