Colombia suspends receiving flights of returning migrants from US

Colombia suspends receiving flights of returning migrants from US

Migration agency cites mistreatment of migrants by US authorities

By Laura Gamba

BOGOTA, Colombia (AA) - Colombia said Thursday that it is temporarily suspending a program involving the repatriation of Colombian nationals found by immigration officers at the US border with Mexico.

The decision was reportedly made to protest the way in which US authorities are treating the migrants, Carlos Fernando Garcia, director of Colombia’s migration agency, said in a statement.

"The use of restrictive elements such as hand and foot cuffs, even on women heads of household, has been one of the central aspects of the negotiations with the agencies to dignify the treatment of Colombians," said Garcia.

"There are recurrent complaints about poor conditions in detention centers and mistreatment during flights, which represented a determining factor in the decision taken in the last hours," he added.

He also cited the cancellation of two flights planned for May 1 and 2 by the US Department of Homeland Security.

The flights were part of a pilot plan to receive approximately 1,200 Colombians, mostly women and children, between May 1 and 7, before the termination of an emergency immigration restriction known as Title 42.

Since November 2022, the number of flights of Colombians returning from the US has increased. While a year ago, there were one or two flights a month, now there are around 20.

The number of Colombians attempting to migrate to the US has soared in recent years, with more than 125,000 apprehended at the southern border in 2022, up from about 6,200 in 2021, according to US Customs and Border Protection.

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