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Colombia Decries Increase in Deportations by Venezuelan Government

People queue while they wait to cross the border to Colombia at San Antonio in Tachira state, Venezuela, Aug.t 23, 2015.

Venezuela has intensified deportations of Colombians since President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of two border crossings last week, Colombia's migration office said on Monday, in some cases separating children from their parents.

Expulsions, deportations and repatriations of Colombians from Venezuela have more than doubled this year to 3,800, officials from Migration Colombia told Reuters, from 1,820 in 2014.

Since the border crossings were closed last week, 661 Colombians have been deported and 124 minors have been repatriated, sometimes being separated from their parents.

Legally, children cannot be deported, so their movements are described by authorities as repatriation.

Maduro closed the crossings after a shootout between smugglers and troops left three soldiers wounded. He later declared a 60-day state of emergency in five border municipalities.

"We demand that before applying deportation methods, each family situation is analyzed to guarantee the union of parents and children," Colombia's foreign ministry said in a statement.

Some five million Colombians live in Venezuela. Dozens of them returned to Colombia voluntarily over the weekend, according to officials and news reports.

The porous 2,219-kilometer (1,379 mile) border shared by the two countries is frequently traversed by smugglers and illegal armed groups.