and Lizbeth Diaz
Nov 22 (Reuters) – The United States is in talks with Mexico and other countries to facilitate the return of Venezuelans to their homeland, a senior U.S. official said in a call with reporters on Tuesday.
“We’re in discussion with Mexico and other countries to see what can be done in that sense,” said Blas Nunez-Neto, the acting assistant secretary for border and immigration policy.
Nunez-Neto declined to provide details when asked which other countries were in discussion with the United States. Mexico’s foreign ministry did not immediately reply to a request for comment.
The discussions likely involve deporting Venezuelans to a third country and flying them back to Venezuela from there, though Nunez-Neto did not specify. Return flights of Venezuelans from Mexico began last month, Mexican officials told Reuters.
The talks come as Washington is working to wind down Title 42, a COVID-era policy that allows authorities to rapidly send migrants at the U.S. southern border back to Mexico.
Nunez-Neto said that in place of Title 42, authorities would continue to process migrants under Title 8, which would allow them to request asylum at border entry points.
The official said authorities had not yet decided how Venezuelans could request asylum at the border, but said those who entered the United States illegally would be deported.
“We’re looking to see how we can have a safe, orderly and functional process,” Nunez-Neto said. “We don’t currently have a relationship with the government of Venezuela, but we do have the capacity to carry out repatriations to Venezuela.”
In mid-October, the United States and Mexico announced a plan in which Washington would grant humanitarian aid to up to 24,000 Venezuelans entering the United States by air, while allowing them to expel those who crossed by land back to Mexico.