Tue | Jan 31, 2023

Colombia asks for legal status for its people already in US

Published:Wednesday | November 30, 2022 | 9:57 AM
President of Colombia Gustavo Petro arrives for a diner at the Elysee Palace to close the Peace Forum event, Friday, November 11, 2022, in Paris. In a letter released Tuesday, November 29, Colombia said that it wants the Biden administration to grant temporary legal status to its citizens now living in the United States, noting its own efforts to address regional migration by hosting two million Venezuelans who fled their homes. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena, File)

BOGOTA, Colombia (AP) — Colombia wants the Biden administration to grant temporary legal status to its citizens now living in the United States, noting its own efforts to address regional migration by hosting two million Venezuelans who fled their homes.

Gustavo Petro, who was elected Colombia’s first leftist president in June, is committed to the “incredibly generous policies” of his predecessor, which includes a temporary status for 1.8 million people who fled neighboring Venezuela, said Luis Alberto Murillo Urrutia, Colombia’s ambassador to the US.

But the diplomat asked the United States for help, saying that in addition to Venezuelans who stay and work, more than 80,000 migrants pass through Colombia each year on their way to other countries.

In a letter to US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, he asks President Joe Biden to grant Colombians already in the US a form of temporary status called Deferred Enforced Departure.

“Migration is a regional issue that should be addressed under the principle of shared responsibility, strengthening regional cooperation to ensure migratory regularization,” Murillo Urrutia wrote in a letter dated November 17 and released Tuesday by Colombian officials.

That language echoes an agreement that Biden struck in June in Los Angeles among Western Hemisphere countries, including Colombia under then-President Iván Duque. “The Los Angeles Declaration” was billed as a roadmap for countries to host large numbers of migrants and refugees.

The White House and Homeland Security Department had no immediate comment late Tuesday on Colombia’s request.

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