Blinken visits migrant center in Bogota to support welcoming Venezuelans

Bogota, Oct 4 (EFE).- US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Tuesday visited an immigration center in Bogota to demonstrate his support for Colombia’s Temporary Protected Status (TPS) program for Venezuelans, which Washington considers an example for the rest of the region.

The top US diplomat, on a South American tour, joined Bogota Mayor Claudia Lopez in strolling through the immigration center located in the downtown zone of the Colombian capital.

In addition, Blinken chatted with a family of Venezuelans who left their country six months ago along with their nine-month-old baby and who are beneficiaries of TPS, a program that gives them permission to work in Colombian territory for 10 years.

Colombia has welcomed more then 2.5 million Venezuelans, of whom more than 500,000 are currently living in Bogota.

In remarks to the press, Blinken applauded the fact that thanks to TPS 1.5 million Venezuelans can work, send their children to school, be productive and contribute to society, adding that neither the US nor Colombia want to have a “lost generation” of Venezuelans.

The secretary of state said that “never in world history” have there been so many people on the move from their homes, a phenomenon that is being experienced in particular in the Western Hemisphere.

In that regard, he said that initiatives like the immigration center, which is being co-financed by the US Agency for International Development (USAID), are examples of the “hope” that this challenge can be dealt with.

Meanwhile, with Blinken standing at her side, Mayor Lopez said that “Bogota has the honor of being the city in all the Americas that has received the most migrants in recent years,” adding that “It’s been a challenge, yes, but also a blessing.”

The immigration crisis is one of the main issues that the top US diplomat is discussing with officials on his tour through Colombia, Chile and Peru.

The US is financing initiatives whereby the countries of the region are welcoming migrants and refugees who cross into their territory with an eye toward stemming the arrival of these people at the US border.

In that regard, Blinken said that the TPS for Venezuelans in Colombia is an “example” for the rest of the region.

In a meeting on Monday, Colombian President Gustavo Petro asked Blinken for Washington to implement a similar TPS for Colombian migrants in the US.

EFE er/ime/eat/bp

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