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VOA Immigration Weekly Recap, Oct. 1–7

Migrants heading north line up to take a boat in Bajo Chiquito, Darien province, Panama, after walking across the Darien Gap from Colombia on Oct. 5, 2023.
Migrants heading north line up to take a boat in Bajo Chiquito, Darien province, Panama, after walking across the Darien Gap from Colombia on Oct. 5, 2023.

Editor's note: Here is a look at immigration-related news around the U.S. this week. Questions? Tips? Comments? Email the VOA immigration team:

US Government to Resume Deportations to Venezuela

The Biden administration announced Thursday it will resume the deportation of migrants back to Venezuela in hopes of decreasing the numbers of Venezuelans arriving at the U.S.-Mexico border. On a background call with reporters — a method often used by U.S. authorities to share information with reporters without being identified — Biden officials said Venezuelan nationals who cross into the United States unlawfully will still be processed. But if it is found they do not have a legal basis to remain in the country, they will be "swiftly removed" back to Venezuela. The U.S. has not carried out regular deportations to Venezuela for years. VOA’s Immigration reporter Aline Barros.

Biden Says He Can’t Stop New Border Barrier Plan

President Joe Biden said Thursday he was unable to legally divert money away from a plan to build several miles of new barriers along the southern border — directly contradicting his campaign vow to build “not another foot of wall” and drawing harsh criticism from Mexico’s president. A notice to allow construction in Texas was released Wednesday night in the Federal Register, the official U.S. government gazette. Story by VOA’s White House correspondent Anita Powell and VOA’s Immigration reporter Aline Barros.

UN Agency: US-Mexico Border, World's Deadliest Land Crossing for Migrants

The U.S.-Mexico border is the world's deadliest land migration route, according to the United Nations migration agency. The most recent report from the International Organization for Migration shows hundreds of people die each year attempting to get to the United States through the dangerous deserts. VOA’s Immigration reporter Aline Barros.

Chicago Keeps Hundreds of Migrants at Airports While Waiting on Shelters and Tents

Hidden behind a heavy black curtain in one of the nation's busiest airports is Chicago's unsettling response to a growing population of asylum-seekers arriving by plane. Hundreds of migrants, from babies to the elderly, live inside a shuttle bus center at O'Hare International Airport's Terminal 1. They sleep on cardboard pads on the floor and share airport bathrooms. A private firm monitors their movements. The Associated Press reports.

Migrants Being Raped at Mexico Border as They Await Entry to US

When Carolina's captors arrived at dawn to pull her out of the stash house in the Mexican border city of Reynosa in late May, she thought they were going to force her to call her family in Venezuela again to beg them to pay $2,000 ransom. Instead, one of the men shoved her onto a broken-down bus parked outside and raped her, she told Reuters. "It's the saddest, most horrible thing that can happen to a person," Carolina said. Reported by Reuters.

US Officials in Mexico to Discuss Fentanyl, Human Migration

Senior U.S. officials, including Secretary of State Antony Blinken, were in Mexico for talks Wednesday with Mexican officials on the drug trade and a humanitarian crisis at the U.S. southern border. Blinken will be joined by Attorney General Merrick B. Garland and Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas. The U.S. delegation is set to meet with Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador and Rosa Icela Rodriguez, secretary for Security and Citizen Protection. Reported by Rob Garver.

Immigration around the world

Reporter's Notebook: The End of Artsakh

The dog's ribs are visible and her owner's skeletal shoulders poke through a gray sweater. The dog's name is Chalo, essentially "Spot" in Armenian, and the owner, 69, tells us to call her Tamar. She is a refugee in Armenia and wants her real name withheld for security reasons. We meet her in a park hours after she arrives in Goris, Armenia, where workers staff humanitarian tents in the last days of September for the 100,000-plus people fleeing Nagorno-Karabakh. By VOA's Middle East correspondent Heather Murdock.

Pakistan to Begin Deportation of 1.7 Million Undocumented Afghans

Pakistan has ordered all undocumented immigrants, including 1.7 million Afghans, to leave the country by November 1, vowing mass deportations for those who stay. Caretaker Prime Minister Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar approved the plan Tuesday at a high-level meeting of his top civilian and military officials in Islamabad. Reported by Ayaz Gul and VOA Pakistan Bureau Chief Sarah Zaman.

Afghans Seeking Refuge in Pakistan Face New Uncertainties

Pakistan has ordered all undocumented immigrants to leave voluntarily by November 1 or face deportation. The new order primarily affects Afghans, many of whom fled their country after the Taliban took over in August 2021. VOA Pakistan Bureau Chief Sarah Zaman met with some Afghan women who once again are facing an uncertain future. VOA footage by Wajid Asad, Malik Waqar Ahmad and Wajid Shah.

New IOM Chief Seeks More Regular Pathways for Migration

On assuming her post as the new director general of the International Organization for Migration, Amy Pope said that one of her main priorities was to build more regular pathways for migration for people who have lost hope for a viable future and cannot stay home. Lisa Schlein reports for VOA from Geneva.

Ethiopian Entrepreneur Awarded for App That Helps Refugees Find Work

An Ethiopian digital app inventor has been given a prestigious award from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation for creating an application designed to link refugees with employers. Last week in New York, Eden Tadesse accepted a Goalkeepers Global Goals Award at a ceremony attended by Kenyan President William Ruto, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and Bill and Melinda Gates, among others. Maya Misikir reports for VOA from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

Pakistan Turns Up Heat Over Cross-Border Attacks

A senior Pakistani diplomat said Thursday that while the Taliban had brought peace and security to Afghanistan, increased terrorist attacks from the neighboring country threatened stability in Pakistan, putting strains on an already difficult bilateral relationship. Ayaz Gul reports for VOA from Islamabad, Pakistan.

VOA60 Africa — Hundreds of Thousands of South Sudanese Refugees Face Hunger

The World Food Program says hundreds of thousands of South Sudanese refugees fleeing Sudan's five-month-long war are facing hunger, with 90% of families going days without meals. The fighting has forced out nearly 300,000 South Sudanese.

Taliban, Rights Groups Decry Pakistan's Decision to Evict Afghan Immigrants

Afghanistan's Taliban Wednesday urged Pakistan to review its plans to expel Afghan immigrants, rejecting charges the displaced community is involved in the security problems facing the neighboring country. Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid released the statement a day after the Pakistani government ordered undocumented immigrants, including more than 1.7 million Afghans, to leave the country by November 1. Ayaz Gul reports for VOA from Islamabad, Pakistan.

Officials Describe ‘Surreal’ Scenes as Nagorno-Karabakh’s Aid, Health Crisis Grows

The unprecedented influx of more than 100,000 refugees from Nagorno-Karabakh into Armenia in less than a week has triggered a humanitarian and health crisis that will require a large-scale, longtime international effort and support to resolve, aid officials warned Tuesday. Lisa Schlein reports for VOA from Geneva.

Armenian Refugees Say No Hope of Return to Nagorno-Karabakh

Nearly the entire population of ethnic Armenians in Nagorno-Karabakh have fled to Armenia, and the one-time residents of the self-declared Republic of Artsakh are scattered. But as VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Ishkhanasar and Kornidzor near the Armenia border with Azerbaijan, many fear the war that drove them out is not over. Camerman Yan Boechat contributed.

Lebanon Reacts to Surge in Migration from Syria

Lebanon is pushing back on the European Union’s calls for the country to assist migrants and refugees from Syria. There are growing concerns that Lebanon’s collapsing economy is fueling anti-immigrant sentiment and putting the country on a dangerous course. Lebanon’s caretaker interior minister, Bassam Mawlawi, has accused Syrian refugees and migrants of committing crimes, taking away jobs from Lebanese and potentially creating a demographic imbalance along sectarian lines, saying their numbers must be “limited.” Produced by Dale Gavlak.

News brief

— U.S. Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas announced Friday “the extension and redesignation of Cameroon for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for 18 months, from December 8, 2023, through June 7, 2025, due to ongoing armed conflict and extraordinary and temporary conditions in Cameroon that prevent individuals from safely returning.”