Brasília (AFP) – Brazilian President Michel Temer and US Vice President Mike Pence discussed Tuesday the fate of Brazilian children stranded at America’s southern border and Venezuela’s deepening crisis.
“I pointed out that our government is ready to help transport Brazilian children back to Brazil, if that is the wish of their families, the authorities of both countries will continue to be in touch with this issue,” Temer told reporters.
About 50 Brazilian children are staying at shelters in the United States, after being separated from their parents at the US-Mexican border.
When the United States briefly implemented “zero tolerance” on illegal immigration, more than 2,000 children — mostly Central Americans — were separated from their parents.
They remain in the care of the Department of Health and Human Services in several shelters.
“This is an extremely sensitive issue for the Brazilian society and government, and I asked (Pence) for his special attention to ensure the quick reunion of the families,” said Temer, who thanked the US vice president’s “willingness” to cooperate.
Pence said that “we are working to reunite families, including Brazilian families, who’ve been caught up in this wave of illegal immigration.”
“The United States of America is the most welcoming home for immigrants in human history,” he insisted.
But Pence said that those unprepared to come legally should stay home.
Turning his attention to neighboring Venezuela, the US vice president urged Brazil to support “stronger action” to isolate the government of leftist President Nicolas Maduro.
“As long as Maduro denies democracy and basic rights to his people, Venezuela will continue to crumble, and the Venezuelan people will continue to suffer,” he added.
He highlighted Brazil’s support for the economic sanctions against Caracas and welcomed the European Union’s decision to sanction Venezuelan Vice President Delcy Rodriguez.
Pence travels Tuesday to the northern city of Manaus to visit a shelter for Venezuelans. Thousands have arrived in recent years to the state capital Amazonas, almost 1,000 kilometers (620 miles) from the border with Venezuela.
More than 32,000 Venezuelans have sought asylum in Brazil and thousands of others temporary residency in the last three years. The trend is on the rise as the social, economic and political crisis in the neighboring country has grown increasingly stark.