Venezuelans take part in a caravan toward the U.S., in Tapachula Reuters / JOSE TORRES

Illegal border crossings into the U.S. by Venezuelans have dropped sharply in October, following the Biden administration's announcement of deportation flights to the South American country.

Concretely, authorities at the U.S. Customs and Border Protection have seen a 50 to 60 percent drop, according to figures obtained by the Washington Post.

Encounters have gone from more than 2,000 a day to about 850 since the announcement, and have plunged even more since the first flight took place on October 18, said the Post, which cited officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

Venezuelans surpassed Mexicans for the first time as the nationality with the most illegal border crossings for the first time in September with over 54,800 apprehensions, an all-time high.

Biden administration officials stood by the decision to implement deportation flights, pointing at legal alternatives given to Venezuelan nationals to enter the country each month, such as applying through a sponsor in the country or seeking an appointment at a border crossing using a government-issued app.

An immigration attorney in Florida, Rachel Leon, explained that migrants who apply for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) can avoid facing deportation.

"Venezuelans who have not applied for TPS (Temporary Protected Status) and have deportation orders could be affected," she said. "Those who are eligible for TPS should apply as soon as possible to avoid facing deportation."

According to the U.S. Transportation Department, the country will be deporting ''multiple" flights in a week to Venezuela. An acting executive associate director for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Corey Price, disclosed that Venezuelan migrants who recently arrived in the country and those who committed crimes in the U.S. border, were prioritized for deportation.

On the day of the first flight, Venezuela's President Nicolás Maduro said in a televised interview: "I am glad that today, in compliance with the agreements discussed and signed between the authorities of Venezuela and the government of the United States, the first group of Venezuelans who have been repatriated have returned."

In an interview with the Latin Times before the flights began, Christopher Hernandez-Roy, deputy director and senior fellow of the Americas Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), anticipated the measure would have a deterrent effect: "I think this will have an effect and will make people think twice. It may not eliminate the flow. I doubt very much that it would eliminate the flow, but it could lessen it," said Hernandez-Roy.

"The administration kind of did two things at the same time. On the one hand, it extended the temporary protection measures of Venezuelans who were already in the U.S., especially the Temporary Protected Status (TPS) but on the other it recognized the tremendous pressure there is," he added.

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