R4R Situation Report: Central America and Mexico (February 2022) – Costa Rica

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The context

Panama

More than 500 Venezuelans regularized their status in Panama in 2022 (242 in January and 345 in February).
Meanwhile, at least 215 Venezuelans have returned to their country in the first two months of the year, according to official figures from Migración Panamá.

The Migration Authority has suspended the validity of all applications for extensions and permanent residences governed by Executive Order No. 235 until April 30, 2022. As of May 1, 2022, all applications will be processed through normal channels. ; similarly, the validity of all extraordinary and general migration regularization permits is extended from July 1, 2021 to April 30, 2022.

Costa Rica

On February 21, Costa Rica introduced entry visa requirements for Venezuelan nationals (Executive Order No. 36626-G). To apply for a visa, Venezuelans must submit the application to a Costa Rican embassy before entering the country. Exceptions are only made in cases of emergency or force majeure. Additionally, a new transit visa requirement has also been introduced for Venezuelan, Cuban and Nicaraguan nationals.

Venezuelan nationals who legally reside in Costa Rica as refugees or stateless persons, if leaving the country, must obtain the entry visa consulted to return. Those whose asylum applications are being processed need a permit from the Migration Authority to be exempt from this requirement; otherwise, they must obtain a visa to return to Costa Rica on their trip.

Mexico

According to Mexican government data on immigration procedures for Venezuelan nationals (including applications for humanitarian visas), 2,578 such procedures were initiated in January, most of them in Mexico City. The Mexican Migration Institute (INM) reported through the National Transparency Portal that a total of 3,578 Venezuelan nationals arrived in the country by plane in February, a sharp drop from the 27,835 who arrived by plane in January, before the imposition of a visa requirement. for Venezuelans to enter Mexico as of January 21.

US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) recorded 3,073 encounters with Venezuelan nationals attempting to enter the country through the southwestern US land border with Mexico in the month of February, representing a decrease substantial compared to the 22,779 encounters recorded in January 2022, also after the launch of the visa requirement. These figures include encounters between and at points of entry. They also represent instances of attempted entry into the United States, not the number of individuals arriving, as an individual may attempt to cross the border multiple times. Current recidivism rates remain around 25%.

The introduction of the visa requirement posed significant challenges for Venezuelans attempting to enter Mexico, resulting in a sharp reduction in arrivals by air and more Venezuelans arriving overland via the border with Guatemala. A total of 619 asylum applications were registered in Tapachula (Chiapas) in February, which represents an exponential increase compared to the 58 applications registered in January, before the entry into force of the visa requirement. In February, R4V partners did not report assisting any asylum seekers at Mexico City International Airport.

Meanwhile, the partners said they received requests for information from Venezuelans who needed to leave Venezuela but could not travel to Mexico due to lack of visas. Difficulties in family reunification are expected to increase in particular because of this situation. Apoyo a Migrantes, a group of Venezuelan activists, challenged the visa requirement for Venezuelan nationals.

In early February, local media reported multiple protests by asylum seekers and migrants that took place in Tapachula, near Mexico’s border with Guatemala. A group of 20 asylum seekers and migrants, including Venezuelans, went on a hunger strike to pressure Mexican authorities to deal with their cases. The following day, media reported that asylum seekers and migrants were sewing their mouths shut in protest that they had not been allowed to transit through Mexico on their way to the United States. As a further form of protest, asylum seekers and migrants placed chains around their bodies and demanded that Mexican immigration authorities provide them with transit documents. The Mexican Human Rights Commission (CNDH) has called on national immigration authorities such as the National Migration Institute (INM) and the Mexican Commission for Aid to Refugees (COMAR) to implement measures precautionary measure to protect the rights of refugees and migrants participating in protests in Tapachula.

R4V partners have also learned that Venezuelans in a regular situation in Mexico have been detained by the INM during domestic flights.

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