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Fox News
Fox News
24 Feb 2024


A wave of violent crimes being carried out across America has been linked to Venezuelan migrants, and the U.S. government cannot deport any of them, as the South American country will not take any of its citizens back.

An illegal immigrant originally from Venezuela has been charged in connection with the violent murder of Georgia nursing student Laken Riley on the University of Georgia campus on Thursday. Jose Antonio Ibarra, 26, the suspect, was released into the U.S. via parole, three ICE & DHS sources told Fox News.

In New York City, the NYPD are trying to crack down on a violent Venezuelan gang known as Tren de Aragua that it says is responsible for terrorizing residents with dozens of robberies in the Big Apple, where the group has now been blamed for scooter and moped robberies as well as retail theft.

Authorities escort a man in shackles onto a deportation flight

A man in shackles boards a deportation flight of Venezuelans on October 18, 2023.  (VERONICA G. CARDENAS/AFP via Getty Images)

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At least two of its members were arrested in connection with the shocking mob assault of two New York City police officers last month.

In a separate New York City case, a 15-year-old Venezuelan migrant was arrested for shooting at cops as he fled a sports clothing store in Times Square, where police say he shot at a security guard and ended up striking a tourist in the leg. 

In Chicago, meanwhile, four immigrants from Venezuela were arrested last week for allegedly robbing and beating a man on a CTA train in Chicago. 

Some migrants in the Windy City even told police that they are committing crimes there just so they can be deported back to Venezuela.

Laken Riley in a medical coat in a grassy field

Laken Riley poses for a photo posted to Facebook. Riley, a nursing student at the University of Georgia, was found dead near a lake on campus on Thursday, February 22, 2024.  (Allyson Phillips/Facebook)

But deporting law-breaking Venezuelan migrants just got harder for the U.S. government as the South American country has torn up a deal to let them be flown home from the U.S. and Mexico. Venezuela has stopped accepting flights of migrants deported from the U.S. and Mexico.

President Nicolás Maduro’s authoritarian regime is refusing to cooperate with deportation requests after Washington reimposed some of the economic sanctions it had previously lifted on Venezuela, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal.

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A deal between the two countries in October to fly illegal Venezuelan migrants directly back to their home country was meant to be a signal from the White House that it was vigorously tackling the issue in the wake of mounting criticism. 

Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro gives State of the Union speech wearing flag inspired sash

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has been charged with drug trafficking. (Gaby Oraa/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

The Biden administration sought to lift sanctions imposed on Venezuela by the Trump administration, saying the impositions only exacerbated the ongoing economic and humanitarian crisis there. The U.S. estimates that 7.7 million Venezuelans have fled the nation since Madura took office in 2013.

The deal saw the U.S. send around 1,800 Venezuelans on 15 flights, but the agreement was stalled last month and has now stopped, the Journal reports.

The U.S. had lifted sanctions on Venezuela’s oil industry and other sectors, while Maduro’s regime agreed to allow elections later this year in the hope of reviving its economy. 

Venezuela, located on the northern coast of South America with a population of around 28 million, has also asserted a claim to a resource-rich region of neighboring Guyana, drawing further warnings from the U.S.

But last month Washington ordered a wind-down of all business transactions between U.S. entities and Venezuela's state miner Minerven and said it would unwind its easing of energy sanctions if Maduro's administration did not stick to the agreement and accept conditions for a fair presidential election. 

The South American country's top court upheld a ban blocking the leading opposition hopeful, Maria Corina Machado, from the election.

NYPD officer attacked

NYPD officers were attacked by migrants in Times Square in January, several of whom are from Venezuela. (NYPD)

The U.S. restored sanctions on Venezuela’s gold sector on February 13, and now Madura is refusing to co-operate with deportations, meaning that some of its violent criminals residing in the U.S. cannot be removed.

Even so, the Biden administration has deported only a tiny fraction of Venezuelan migrants who have entered the country illegally. 

Just over 830 Venezuelan border-crossers were reported in fiscal year 2023, which ended on September 30, according to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), despite 335,000 Venezuelan citizens being encountered by border authorities.

More than 201,000 of them were apprehended by Border Patrol agents after crossing illegally into the U.S. The rest were encountered at ports of entry, which would include CBP One app paroles into the U.S.

Jose Antonio Ibarra Mugshot

Jose Ibarra, who was originally taken into custody on Friday by the UGA Police Department in connection with Riley's death, is now not believed to have had a connection to the victim. (Clarke County Sheriff's Office)

Michael Dorgan is a writer for Fox News Digital and Fox Business.

You can send tips to michael.dorgan@fox.com and follow him on Twitter @M_Dorgan.