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Border Agents Take Venezuelan Passports, Blocking Asylum Seekers From Settling in the U.S.


Nov 10, 2022

This summary about border patrol agents seizing Venezuelan passports was featured in Documented’s Early Arrival newsletter. You can subscribe to receive it in your inbox three times per week here.

Many Venezuelans who arrived in New York City in recent months are living day by day, more worried about shelter and meals than their legal status. But they may soon find themselves in desperate need of documents needed to gain a foothold in the U.S. with no way of obtaining them.

Immigration procedures, work permits, and social services often require passports and national identification documents. But the Border Patrol confiscated many Venezuelans’ passports en masse at the border, and the Venezuelan consulates in the U.S. have been closed since 2019.

When migrants realize they need identification documents, “They ask us: what do I do? And then we stay in a cycle because we don’t know where to tell them to go. There is nowhere to go,” Niurka Meléndez, founder of Venezuelan and Immigrants Aid told Rosario Marina, our reporter in today’s story.

A CBP spokesperson told Documented that identification documents must be returned to migrants. But in practice, many migrants have said they never see those documents again. Nonprofit organizations consider it inhumane and are trying to litigate. 

With an absent consulate, Venezuelans have organized on social media to guide hundreds of Venezuelan people living abroad through the process of renewing their passports.

Read the full report on Documented

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