The Last Hope for Venezuelans

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By Estefano Reyes

Artwork by Maria Patricia Mejicano

January 7, 2021 at 10:00 P.M. EST.  

I still remember saying a prayer to the Chinita as I bid farewell to the Maracaibo Lake for the last time. A journey awaited me to a better quality of life and a place filled with hope. Like some Venezuelans in the United States, I came from an uncertain political change where we feared living under a soon-to-come dictatorship. The U.S. alliance with Venezuelans has enabled us to find a place to call home. As the 2020 presidential elections finally come to a close, we are left at the mercy of President-Elect Joe Biden’s foreign policy vision for America. Reportedly, his plan guarantees that our immigration status is in safe hands. Still, we can’t help but question President-Elect Joe Biden’s true intentions. Is he in fact seeking to build a generation of immigrants in the U.S. or are these nothing but false claims to get public attention and votes?  

“I do not know directly if President-Elect Biden will help Venezuelans, but maybe migratory policies will be less harsh. Certainly, it will not be the same migratory policies Cubans had a few years back. It is simply not reasonable to sustain so many people at the same time,” said 2nd-year Venezuelan student, Wolfang Rugeles.

President-Elect Joe Biden originally expressed his intentions on foreign policy during speeches and debates for the 2020 election. He has said that his aim is to lay down a new path while repairing the damage that Trump’s presidency unleashed. Generally, Biden’s migratory agenda upholds the rights of asylum seekers. Working directly with Congress, he intends to both increase the U.S. admission target to 125,000 refugees and to reunite 545 children who were separated from their parents at the U.S. border. He wants to double all available immigration court staff, interpreters, and judges. Thus, he envisions to reinforce humanitarian aid to immigrants, including Venezuelans under asylum status, and advocate for those who face political persecution. Most important of all, his mission includes generating and maximizing opportunities for immigrants to become U.S. Citizens.

“I consider President-Elect Biden will not disrupt our current political situation as Venezuelans. Basically, there are low probabilities for us to get deported, and much more low probabilities to get denied our residency and citizenship,” 2nd-year Venezuelan student, Juan Martinez said. 

While, understandably, Biden’s promises give hope to immigrants out there, it is very important to consider the risks that could arise if such promises failed to be met. In the current situation that the world is facing, deportations seem to lead to more serious consequences. Besides the previously existing problems that countries such as Venezuela and Nicaragua had, the COVID-19 pandemic is something else to worry about. Experts have expressed concern that some countries in Latin America are significantly undercounting their death-tolls. Many observers have expressed special concern for Venezuela where the healthcare system was collapsing prior to the pandemic. The University of Washington forecasts that deaths in Latin America and the Caribbean from COVID-19 could reach more than 500,000 by January 1, 2021. 

“Even though Obama was not rough or sharp in his attitude, he still deported plenty of people. Trump, on the other hand, was very talkative. I believe Biden is 50% credible since one thing is saying something and another thing is taking action. In terms of immigration, Biden will either reunite all the families within the U.S. or deport them immediately, but again it is a complex topic,” 2nd-year Venezuelan student, Jose Sanchez said.

In the case of economic impact, before the pandemic, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) projected 1.6% economic growth for the region in 2020 but forecasts a recession for several countries. On June 24, 2020, the IMF revised its regional forecast to a contraction of 9.4%, with almost every country in recession. Economic recovery may be a protracted process in countries that rely heavily on global trade and investment, which the pandemic is significantly affecting. Oil-producing countries in the region, especially Venezuela and Ecuador — and, to a lesser extent, Brazil, Colombia, and Mexico — are being negatively affected by the historic drop in the oil price that began in late February 2020. Caribbean nations that depend on tourism face deep economic recessions, with a projected gross domestic product decline of 10.3% in 2020, according to the IMF. Therefore, the previous precedents can verify it is not a suitable time to deport immigrants back to their countries. It is extremely likely that they would be exposed to life-threatening and unstable situations in their country of origin.

“In the case of asylum seekers, we still need to wait and see what will happen, since politicians are, in fact, politicians, and they talk too much. But from facts to words, there is a lot to cover,” said 2nd-year Venezuelan student, Maria Patricia Mejicano.

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Estefano Reyes

Estefano Reyes is a sophomore student majoring in computer science and aspiring to get a minor in mathematics at the Miami Dade Honors College, Eduardo J. Padron Campus. He has been a member of the Dean List since January 2020 and has been a Mathematics and Computer Science research assistant with Dr. Jyrko Correa. Specifically, his research ranges from Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine learning, Classification Methods, Clustering Analysis, to Consensus Methods. In fact, Estefano Reyes, as the president of Sigma Zeta Honors Society Gamma Rho Chapter, is an AI Co-Author within the Swiss Mathematics Springer editorial.

Additionally, Estefano is a leader in Miami Dade College as a Co-organizer with Feeding South Florida (FSF). His latest participation with Sigma Zeta Gamma Rho Chapter members provided a meal for 45,000 families across South Florida. Estefano Reyes is a student member of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA). His mission is to conjoin the aerospace community as a prospective Artificial Intelligence researcher to expand the human race to outer space and beyond. Last, Estefano Reyes is a current writer with Urbana Literary & Arts Magazine Volume XIV, as he aims to cross-collaborate in the humanistic field at MDC. His main hobbies are biking and learning Mandarin.

It is safe to say, trying to foresee what the future will bring for our situation, as Venezuelans, we can often feel as hopeless as trying to stop raindrops from falling with our own hands. It is like attempting to demystify what we cannot comprehend. Our world is unpredictable, unreliable, and uncertain. For this reason, we choose to have faith in our exodus.

At this point, I cannot conclude whether Democrat presidents in fact would aid Venezuelans or not. I can only hold on to my strategy, as the majority of Venezuelans do, to just hope for the best and never lose faith in a better tomorrow. Our purpose is to keep thriving, always trying to be better through kindness, sympathy, and passion, moving forward as proud members of the Latinx community. 

 

Thus, I envision President Joe Biden as a solution for any Venezuelan with a fragile migratory status - a president that will help us remain in the U.S. mainland. 

Support Urbana's humanitarian campaign through Change.org. Please help us spread the word! We hope that President-elect Biden commits to action during his first 100 days in office and prioritizes Venezuela's political situation during these times of crisis. We reaffirm the necessity of having a foreign policy that conforms to the Venezuelan-American community's collective desires. 

References (4)

“The Biden Plan for Securing Our Values as a Nation of Immigrants. Check it out https://joe

 biden.com/immigration/.” (Aug.05, 2020). 

“Latin America and the Caribbean: Impact of COVID-19, https://fas.org/sgp/crs/row/IF11581.

pdf.” (Dec.17, 2020).

“Biden Has Promised to Undo Trump’s Immigration Policies. How Much Is He Really Likely      Reform?, https://time.com/5909571/joe-biden-immigration-policy/.” (Nov.20, 2020).

“A Presidency For All Americans, https://joebiden.com/presidency-for-all-americans/.” (Nov.07,  2020).

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