Wednesday, July 24, 2024

Mexico reaches agreement to repatriate migrants to Venezuela

Mexico has reached an agreement with Venezuela to repatriate nationals of the South American nation, Foreign Affairs Minister Alicia Bárcena said Thursday.

There are currently between 4,000 and 5,000 Venezuelan migrants “stranded in Mexico, mostly in the city of Tijuana,” according to a Reuters report, while over 220,000 nationals of the beleaguered country entered Mexico irregularly in 2023, government data shows.

Alicia Bárcena and Nicolás Maduro
Foreign Affairs Minister Alicia Bárcena at a meeting with Venezuela’s president Nicolás Maduro in October.(SRE/Cuartoscuro)

They are among nationals of various countries who recently fled poverty and violence in their homelands and traveled to Mexico with the hope of entering the United States — via or between official ports of entry.

Speaking at President Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s morning press conference, Bárcena said that Mexico has reached a so-called “Vuelta a la Patria” (Return to the Homeland) agreement with Venezuela to deport an unspecified number of Venezuelans.

She said that the federal government is also “making deals” with Venezuelan and Mexican companies to provide employment opportunities for the deported migrants. Bárcena said that the government has already reached agreements with Venezuelan beverages company Polar and two Mexican firms with operations in Venezuela, baker Bimbo and Coca-Cola bottler Femsa.

The foreign minister said that the Mexican government will also provide the deportees with a monthly stipend of around US $110 for six months.

President López Obrador and Foreign Affairs Minister Alicia Bárcena
Foreign Affairs Minister Alicia Bárcena speaks at the president’s morning press conference in Oaxaca on Thursday. (SRE/X)

“We have just signed an agreement with Venezuela, with the President Nicolás Maduro, it’s called Vuelta a la Patria. We’re sending Venezuelans back to their country,” Bárcena said, explaining that Mexico doesn’t have the capacity to accommodate the large number of Venezuelan migrants in the country.

“… There is an incentive for them to return,” she added.

Bárcena said that the government is in the process of making similar agreements with other countries including Colombia and Ecuador.

“This is a project to support the returnees … [so that] they don’t migrate again, so they stay [in their countries of origin],” she said.

Migrants at a border crossing near Ciudad Juárez
Migrants face off with soldiers at the border near Ciudad Juárez. (Cuartoscuro)

Bárcena also said the government has a “pact with 50 Mexican companies” to provide 10,000 jobs to migrants in Mexico. That was apparently a reference to a program launched last month under which companies such as Amazon, Chedraui, Bimbo and Walmart are set to employ migrants.

On Thursday morning, Bárcena also spoke about Senate Bill 4 (SB 4), a controversial immigration law in Texas that briefly went into force on Tuesday before a federal U.S appeals court issued an order that prevented its enforcement.

“It’s a profoundly unconstitutional law,” she said of SB 4, which allows state authorities in Texas to detain undocumented migrants and people suspected of crossing the border illegally.

“The migration issue is a federal one. We’re not going to permit [this] action from Texas,” Bárcena said.

After the law took effect on Tuesday, the Mexican government said it would not accept repatriations of migrants by the state of Texas “under any circumstances” and asserted its “legitimate right to protect the rights of its nationals in the United States.”

On Thursday, Bárcena said that the government, via its consulates in Texas, is prepared to assist Mexicans who experience any problems as a result of the application of SB 4, whose future enforcement currently hinges on the decision of a federal court in Louisiana.

With reports from La Jornada, Milenio and El Economista 

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