Venezuela - migrants - Texas
Representational image AFP / Paula RAMON

Venezuelan migrants attempting to reach the U.S. are increasingly getting stuck in Mexico, unable to continue their journey and with no perspective to do so in the near future, The Associated Press reported on Thursday.

U.S. authorities have been recording fewer apprehensions at the border over the past two months, with Venezuelans accounting for a significant part of the drop. Concretely, there were 3,184 arrests in February and 4,422 in January, compared to almost 50,000 in December.

And even though part of the figures can be attributed to seasonal factors -the administration expects them to pick up over spring and summer- a crackdown by Mexican authorities is seeming to play a large role in this.

Efforts by the Andrés Manuel López Obrador (commonly known as AMLO) administration are aimed at keeping migrants closer to its southern border, which it shares with Guatemala. They include forcing people from trains and flying and busing them back south. Some have even been flown to Venezuela.

Last week, Mexico reached an agreement with Venezuela to deport migrants and with large companies operating in the country to employ others. Among the companies are brewers Empresas Polar and state oil firm PDVSA, as well as Mexican food company Bimbo and retailer FEMSA.

Mexico said it would also give about $110 a month over a six-month period to all Venezuelan migrants deported in an attempt to deter them from returning. The offer was also extended to Ecuadorians and Colombians.

"If you support people in their places of origin, the migratory flow reduces considerably, but that requires resources and that is what the United States government has not wanted to do," said López Obrador.

AMLO and Biden
The presidents of Mexico and the U.S. Twitter

Those who want to migrate legally are also increasingly stuck. Migrants who apply for appointments to cross the border through the CBP One app must be in central or northern Mexico.

By mid-February over 64 million requests had been made. Out of the total, nearly 450,000 have been allowed into the country --barely 0.7%-- through the process started in the app in a little over its first year of use.

The requests have not all been made by different people and include repeated attempts by applicants. An official quoted by the outlet said that migrants often make a request a day until getting an appointment.

Using the app and not crossing the border allow those approved by CBP One to apply for a work permit after being released from custody. Those apprehended after crossing illegally become ineligible for asylum if they enter the country after failing to seek refuge in another country beforehand.

For now, it doesn't seem like Venezuelans intend to stop making the journey. AP reported that nationals accounted for the "vast majority of 73,166 migrants who crossed the Darien Gap in January and February." Over 56,000 Venezuelans were stopped by Mexican authorities in February, twice as much as the previous two months. And since less than 500 were deported, most of them are still in Mexico.

This scenario illustrates the importance Mexico has in immigration enforcement, so much so that a recent New York Times piece defined AMLO as a "key player on an issue with potential to sway the election."

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