Immigration

Venezuela’s Opposition Government Encourages Houstonians To Enroll In New Registry

A new initiative will help track the Venezuelan community in the United States. Houston has one of the largest Venezuelan populations in the country.

Venezuelan diplomat Carlos Vecchio encourages Venezuelans living in the U.S. to register in a new database.

Since diplomatic relations with Venezuela ended, people fleeing that regime have been left without embassy services in the United States. 

Now, diplomatic representatives of Venezuela’s opposition government are trying to track its citizens here through a new initiative.

Venezuelan chief diplomat to the United States, Carlos Vecchio, came to Houston as part of a campaign to convince Venezuelans to enroll in a new government registry, which has been active for a couple weeks.

Vecchio works in the U.S. under opposition leader Juan Guaidó, the man recognized as president by dozens of countries.

Authoritarian president Nicolas Maduro maintains his regime is still in charge and has cut ties with the U.S., which has made life even more complicated for the tens of thousands of Venezuelans living in Houston. 

Vecchio said the new registry will bring some order to Venezuelans living in the United States. 

“We would like to know where they are, the profession that they have and where they are located and how we can work together and the best mechanism that we have is this registry,” said Vecchio. 

Social media influencers are helping spread the word of the new registry through online platforms.

Since consular services are shut down, the new online registry is the only way to track who’s here and their needs.

Vecchio also said information from the database won’t be shared with authorities in the U.S. since many Venezuelans are living with expired tourist visas. 

Because Venezuelans can’t access consular services, the U.S. is currently allowing Venezuelans to use expired passports when they are applying for visas or traveling. 

The ongoing conflict has already led to a sharp increase in the number of Venezuelans moving to Houston. In the last seven years, the number of Venezuelans in Houston more than tripled, from 10,000 in 2010 to 33,000 people in 2017, according to a report by the Migration Policy Institute.

However, there could be thousands more living in Houston now that were not counted in the 2017 American Community Survey, or who have come to Houston since that time.

Venezuelans make up the 12th largest immigrant group in Houston, and are tied with Cubans as the fastest-growing group of immigrants in the metro area. 

The Venezuelan community in Houston has been outspoken about their opposition to Nicolas Maduro‘s authoritarian regime.  

“This is a problem that affects both those that live in Venezuela and those who live abroad because we have to work twice as hard to support our families that live in the daily decline of this failed model of socialism,” Eduardo Hurtado, a Venezuelan political analyst and author, previously told Houston Public Media

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