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Crossing the Simon Bolivar bridge into Colombia. Photo: Schneyder Mendoza/AFP/Getty Images

Colombia expects the number of Venezuelan refugees within its borders to rise from an already staggering 1.4 million to 3 million by 2021 if the current crisis continues, Ambassador Francisco Santos told reporters at a briefing on Wednesday, adding, “to be very sincere, if it goes to 3 million, we don’t have the money.”

The big picture: Venezuela’s exodus now rivals Syria’s, and countries including Ecuador and Peru are taking steps to stem the flow of refugees. Not Colombia. “With this government, with this president, that’s going to be the policy: open doors,” Santos says.

  • While he said Colombia's handling of the crisis should be an example for the world, it is “causing huge problems, especially in the health budgets, the education budgets.”
  • “Even the smallest town in Colombia has Venezuelan migrants, and a lot of them,” Santos says. In big cities like Bogotá, “the musicality of the language in the streets is changing.”
  • It's a new phenomenon for Colombia. The country hasn't seen a big immigration wave since arrivals from the Ottoman Empire more than a century ago, Santos says.
  • “I’m greatly surprised at how people have received them. I think the solidarity has been huge. But I also think that the tension is beginning to increase because of the numbers. You’re starting to hear a different discourse.”

The bottom line: “We don’t know,” Santos admitted when asked how Colombia will handle this in the longer term. He said more aid was needed from the U.S. and Europe, as well as from international organizations.

Go deeper: The world shuts its doors.

Go deeper

Trump impeachment trial to start week of Feb. 8, Schumer says

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer. Photo: The Washington Post via Getty

The Senate will begin former President Trump's impeachment trial the week of Feb. 8, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer announced Friday on the Senate floor.

The state of play: The Senate majority leader announced the schedule after reaching an agreement with Republicans. The House will transmit the article of impeachment against the former president late Monday.

1 hour ago - Health

CDC extends interval between COVID vaccine doses for exceptional cases

Photo: Joseph Prezioso/AFP via Getty

Patients can space out the two doses of the coronavirus vaccine by up to six weeks if it’s "not feasible" to follow the shorter recommended window, according to updated guidance from the Centers for Disease and Control and Prevention.

Driving the news: With the prospect of vaccine shortages and a low likelihood that supply will expand before April, the latest changes could provide a path to vaccinate more Americans — a top priority for President Biden.

Texas AG sues Biden administration over deportation freeze

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton speaks to members of the media in 2016. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton is suing the Biden administration in federal district court over its 100-day freeze on deporting unauthorized immigrants, and he's asking for a temporary restraining order.

Between the lines: The freeze went into effect Friday, temporarily halting most immigration enforcement in the U.S. In the lawsuit, Paxton claims the move "violates the U.S. Constitution, federal immigration and administrative law, and a contractual agreement between Texas" and the Department of Homeland Security.