HOUSTON — The U.S. Department of State is allocating more than $140 million in additional humanitarian aid and $31 million in development assistance to “respond to the needs of vulnerable Venezuelans in Venezuela, Venezuelan refugees and migrants, and their generous host communities across the region,” according to a press release by Secretary Antony Blinken.
“This assistance includes more than $56 million through the Department of State’s Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration (PRM) and more than $115 million through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID),” said Blinken.
The Biden administration has been the subject of much criticism over its policies that target specific groups of asylum-seekers. In October the Department of Homeland Security announced new restrictions on Venezuelans specifically that essentially allow only those who can obtain a passport and afford to fly to an airport in the U.S. to be eligible for asylum.
“Those who attempt to cross the southern border of the United States illegally will be returned to Mexico and will be ineligible for this process in the future,” said Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas. “Those who follow the lawful process will have the opportunity to travel safely to the United States and become eligible to work here.”
While the Biden administration, like the preceding Trump administration, ignores the law regarding asylum-seekers and disregards a migrant’s right to due process, the funding for Venezuelans comes as welcome news to many. During the Summit of the Americas held in Los Angeles last June, the U.S. committed to providing assistance to help stem the tide of migrants seeking asylum. Aid to Venezuela was part of that commitment.
“This assistance makes good on the Los Angeles Declaration commitment to support countries hosting large populations of displaced migrants and refugees,” said Blinken. “Our assistance supports the most vulnerable Venezuelans with their critical needs. It also complements the efforts of the host communities of 17 countries that have generously supported them.”
In an effort to reassure Venezuelans that the current funding could not be used by President Nicolas Maduro and the Venezuelan government, Blinken said the U.S. was working with “trusted organizations” to deliver the assistance needed while ensuring no money is diverted to the Maduro regime—as was done in previous years.
“The United States is the largest single donor for the response to the Venezuela regional crisis,” Blinken said. “This brings total U.S. assistance to more than $2.8 billion since 2017, including more than $2.5 billion in humanitarian assistance and $387 million in development assistance.”
Arturo Domínquez is a first-generation Cuban American, anti-racist, journalist, and the publisher of The Antagonist magazine. Twitter: @ExtremeArturo
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