Costa Rica + 4 more

R4V Situation Report: Central America & Mexico (February 2022 )

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Context

Panama

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

The Migratory Authority suspended the validity of all applications for Extensions and Permanent Residences regulated by Executive Decree No. 235 until 30 April 2022. As of 1 May 2022, all applications will be processed through the regular channels; likewise, the validity of all Extraordinary and General Migratory Regularization permits is extended from 1 July 2021 until 30 April 2022.

Costa Rica

On 21 February, Costa Rica introduced entry visa requirements for Venezuelan nationals (Executive Decree No. 36626-G). To apply for a visa, Venezuelans must submit the application at an Embassy of Costa Rica prior to entering the country. Exceptions are made only in cases of emergency or force majeure. In addition, a new requirement for a transit visa was also introduced for Venezuelan, Cuban and Nicaraguan nationals.

Venezuelan nationals who have legal residence in Costa Rica as refugees or stateless persons, if they depart the country, must obtain the consulted entry visa in order to return. Those whose asylum requests are still processing, need a permit from the Migration Authority to be exempt from this requirement; if not, they must obtain a visa to return to Costa Rica when travelling.

Mexico

According to Mexican Government data on immigration procedures for Venezuelan nationals (including requests for humanitarian visas), 2,578 such procedures were initiated in January, most in Mexico City. The Mexican Migration Institute (INM) reported through the national transparency portal that a total of 3,578 Venezuelan nationals arrived to the country by air in February, a sharp drop from the 27,835 who arrived by air in January, prior to the imposition of a visa requirement for Venezuelans to enter Mexico effective on 21 January.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) registered 3,073 encounters with Venezuelan nationals attempting to enter the country via the U.S. Southwest land border with Mexico in the month of February, representing a substantial drop from the 22,779 encounters registered in January 2022, also after initiation of the visa requirement. These numbers include encounters between and at ports of entry. They also represent instances of attempted entry to the U.S., and not the number of individuals arriving, as an individual may attempt to cross the border multiple times. Current recidivism rates remain at around 25%.

The introduction of the visa requirement brought significant challenges for Venezuelans who tried to enter Mexico, resulting in sharply reduced arrivals by air, and greater numbers of Venezuelans arriving by land via the border with Guatemala. A total of 619 asylum applications were registered in Tapachula (Chiapas) in the month of February which represents an exponential increase from the 58 claims registered in January, before the visa requirement came into force. In February, R4V partners did not report assisting any asylum-seekers at Mexico City's International Airport.

Meanwhile, partners reported receiving requests for information from Venezuelans who needed to leave Venezuela but could not travel to Mexico due to the absence of a visa. The difficulties of family reunification are anticipated to increase notably due to this situation. Apoyo a Migrantes, a Venezuelan activist group, challenged the visa requirement for Venezuelan nationals.

In the beginning of February, local media reported multiple protests of asylum-seekers and migrants that took place in Tapachula, near the Mexican border with Guatemala. A group of 20 asylum-seekers and migrants, including Venezuelans, started a hunger strike to pressure Mexican authorities to attend to their cases. The following day, media outlets reported asylum-seekers and migrants sewing their mouths shut in protest for not being allowed to transit through Mexico to reach the United States. As an additional 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) asked national immigration authorities such as the National Migration Institute (INM) and the Mexican Commission for Refugee Assistance (COMAR) to implement precautionary measures to safeguard the rights of refugees and migrants who take part in demonstrations in Tapachula.

R4V partners also learned of Venezuelans with regular status in Mexico who were detained by the INM while on internal flights.