DHS Continues Direct Repatriations of Venezuelan Nationals

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WASHINGTON — Yesterday, the United States, led by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), with support from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and U.S. Customs and Border Protection, facilitated a second charter flight to Venezuela to remove individuals with no legal basis to remain in the U.S. This builds on frequent ICE removal flights throughout the hemisphere and around the world and continued removals of Venezuelans to Mexico. DHS continues to enforce the United States’ immigration laws while strengthening penalties for those who cross our border unlawfully.

Since May 2023, DHS has removed or returned more than 300,000 noncitizens, including more than 45,000 individual family unit members.

“This Administration has carried out the largest expansion of lawful pathways in decades, and we continue to impose consequences under the law for those who do not avail themselves of those pathways,” said Acting Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security Kristie Canegallo. “No one should listen to the lies of smugglers; individuals who cross irregularly will be subject to removal if they do not have a legal basis to remain and will lose the ability to benefit from lawful pathways.”

“For the first time, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement is able to repatriate Venezuelan nationals back to their home country for those who do not have a legal basis to remain in the United States,” said Deputy Director and Senior Official Performing the Duties of the Director Patrick J. Lechleitner. “This is a tremendous step forward in the agency’s ability to strengthen consequences for migrants who cross our border unlawfully.”

“CBP’s message for anyone who is thinking of entering the United States illegally along the Southern border is simple: don’t do it. When migrants cross the border illegally, they put their lives in peril,” said Senior Official Performing the Duties of the Commissioner Troy A. Miller. “CBP will continue to enforce consequences including by preparing for direct repatriations to Venezuela. Individuals and families who do not have a legal basis to remain in the United States will be removed — just as we have done with the resumption of removal flights to Venezuela.”

Noncitizens, including Venezuelan nationals, who lack a lawful basis to stay in the United States will be removed, consistent with U.S. law. In keeping with standard practice, the United States ensures that all noncitizens, including Venezuelan nationals without a legal basis to remain in the United States, are properly screened for valid protection claims and withholding of removal in accordance with our laws and U.S. international obligations. This applies to all noncitizens – regardless of nationality – to ensure the orderly and humane processing, transfer, and removal of single adults and family units.

Noncitizens placed into removal proceedings present their claims for relief or protection from removal before immigration judges in the immigration courts, which are administered by the Justice Department’s Executive Office for Immigration Review. Due to operational security reasons, ICE does not confirm or discuss future or pending transportation operations.

ICE Air Operations facilitates the transfer and removal of noncitizens, including family units, via commercial airlines and chartered flights in support of ICE field offices and other DHS initiatives.

Editor’s note: B-roll available for removals to Venezuela.

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