Biden: ‘Not rational’ to deport migrants to Venezuela, Cuba, Nicaragua
President Biden was Tuesday asked about why migrants have surged across the U.S.-Mexico border during his administration.
Nicaragua has sent 222 prisoners, including dual citizen Michael Healy, to the U.S. after a unilateral decision by the country’s government.
“The release of these individuals, one of whom is a U.S. citizen, by the government of Nicaragua marks a constructive step towards addressing human rights abuses in the country and opens the door to further dialogue between the United States and Nicaragua regarding issues of concern,” U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in press release Thursday.
“Today’s development is the product of concerted American diplomacy, and we will continue to support the Nicaraguan people,” he added.
A State Department spokesperson told Fox News Digital that “all those who were released and left the country voluntarily consented to travel. The U.S. government has made medical and legal assistance available for those individuals.”
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“We have long called for the release of individuals imprisoned in Nicaragua for exercising their fundamental freedoms as a first step towards the restoration of democracy and an improved human rights climate in Nicaragua,” the spokesperson said. “The decision of the Nicaraguan Government is a positive and welcome one.”
Activists await the arrival of some of the more than 200 political prisoners from Nicaragua at Dulles International Airport in Virginia outside Washington, U.S., after being released and flown to the United States February 9, 2023. (Reuters/Kevin Lamarque)
A senior Biden administration official, speaking on condition of anonymity, had told the Associated Press that the government of Nicaragua had decided “unilaterally” to release them.
The newly released individuals will be paroled “for humanitarian reasons into the country for a period of two years,” the spokesperson added, noting that “some of these individuals have spent years in prison, many of them for exercising their fundamental freedoms, in awful conditions and with no access to due process.”
A member of the Nicaraguan judiciary in a televised statement denounced the released prisoners as “traitors” and said they had been “deported” to the U.S. Later Thursday, Nicaragua’s Congress unanimously approved a constitutional change allowing “traitors” to be stripped of their nationality. It will require a second vote in the next legislative session later this year.
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Berta Valle, the wife of opposition leader Felix Maradiaga, said that the State Department had told her that her husband was on the plane. According to U.S. officials, also among those aboard the flight were Cristiana Chamorro, who had been a leading presidential contender before her arrest in 2021, as well as one-time presidential hopefuls Arturo Cruz and Juan Sebastian Chamorro.
The newly released individuals arrived at Dulles International Airport near Washington, D.C., on Thursday morning.
Activists hold up signs with the names of some of the more than 200 political prisoners released from Nicaragua, as they await their arrival at Dulles International Airport in Virginia outside Washington, D.C., February 9, 2023. (Reuters/Kevin Lamarque)
“Upon the release of these individuals from Nicaragua, the United States facilitated their safe transport to Dulles International Airport,” Blinken said.
The State Department will help connect those people with their U.S. resident relatives, according to an email from U.S. officials reviewed by Reuters.
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Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega’s administration has detained dozens of opponents, journalists and religious figures in the years following anti-government protests in 2018.
An aircraft, carrying some of the more than 200 political prisoners released from Nicaragua and flown to the United States, sits at a gate at Dulles International Airport in Virginia outside Washington, D.C. (Courtesy WJLA TV via ABC via Reuters)
Georgina Aguirre-Sacasa, daughter of the elderly former foreign minister Aguirre-Scasa, who was reportedly among the prisoners freed, told The Guardian that she was in shock after learning of her father’s release.
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“This has been a very long slog for us, and I just can’t believe it,” she said.
Reuters and The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Peter Aitken is a Fox News Digital reporter with a focus on national and global news.