DHS Opens New Pathway for Venezuelan Immigrants Under Joint Plan With Mexico

DHS Opens New Pathway for Venezuelan Immigrants Under Joint Plan With Mexico
A Texas State Trooper hands out water to group of Venezuelans waiting to be picked up by Border Patrol after illegally crossing the Rio Grande from Mexico into Del Rio, Texas, on June 3, 2021. (Charlotte Cuthbertson/The Epoch Times)

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is introducing a joint border enforcement plan with Mexico to limit border crossings, allowing up to 24,000 Venezuelans to directly land by air at an interior U.S. port of entry.

On Oct. 12, the two governments announced joint actions to curb rising numbers of undocumented Venezuelans crossing their shared border. With immediate effect, Venezuelans who walk or swim across the border after Oct. 12 will be returned to Mexico under Trump-era policy Title 42, which allows for the swift expulsion of most unauthorized border crossers.
The plan includes new checkpoints, resources, joint targeting of human smuggling organizations, and expanded information sharing related to transit nodes, hotels, stash houses, and staging locations.

Mexico Will Accept Deported Venezuelans

In return, Mexico has agreed to accept deported Venezuelan nationals who enter the United States between ports of entry without authorization. Until Oct. 12, Venezuelans weren't subject to Title 42 border expulsions, as neither their home country nor a third country such as Mexico was willing to receive them.

The United States will grant tens of thousands of Venezuelans legal pathways by air.

“Our comprehensive effort to reduce the irregular migration of Venezuelans also includes a new process to lawfully and safely bring up to 24,000 qualifying Venezuelans into the United States,” the DHS announced on Oct. 12. “The United States will not implement this process without Mexico keeping in place its independent but parallel effort to accept the return of Venezuelan nationals who bypass this process and attempt to enter irregularly.”

Timing Before Midterms Draws Criticism

The operation was announced less than a month before the 2022 midterm elections that could remove Democratic control of Congress. The Biden administration said the move is to ease the ongoing crisis at the U.S.–Mexico border, which has been fueled by increased immigrant flows not only from Venezuela but also Cuba and Nicaragua.

More than 150,000 Venezuelans were picked up at the border between October 2021 and August, contrasted with nearly 48,000 apprehended in the 2021 fiscal year, according to U.S. government data.

The Federation for American Immigration Reform, an organization that favors curbs on illegal immigration, denounced the new program as part of President Joe Biden’s open border policy.

“Once again, Biden is looking to exploit Americans’ sympathies and permanently resettle hundreds of thousands in the United States by ignoring our immigration laws through the abuse of parole authority,” the group wrote on Twitter.

Eligibility Requirements

“These actions make clear that there is a lawful and orderly way for Venezuelans to enter the United States, and lawful entry is the only way,” Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said in an Oct. 12 statement. “Those who follow the lawful process will have the opportunity to travel safely to the United States and become eligible to work here.”

The plan is modeled on the “Uniting for Ukraine” program, rolled out in April, which allows Ukrainians fleeing the Russia–Ukraine conflict to enter the United States by securing a sponsor to provide financial and other support.

Venezuelans will also need to have a supporter within the United States, pass security vetting, and meet public health requirements, including vaccinations. Those approved via this process can then travel by air directly to an interior port of entry in the United States and later apply for work authorization.

Those seeking to apply must not go to the U.S.–Mexico border, according to the Mexican government. Venezuelans who enter Mexico or Panama illegally after Oct. 12 won't be eligible for the program, according to U.S. officials.

The United States was already expelling hundreds of Venezuelans to Mexico before the plan was announced, a Mexican official said. U.S. statistics show 453 Venezuelan expulsions for August, the most recent publicly available data.

US to Provide Additional 65,000 H2-B Visas

At Mexico's request, the United States will provide an additional 65,000 temporary visas to migrants for nonagricultural jobs, the Mexican government stated. Of those visas, 20,000 will be allocated to Central Americans and Haitians.

The Biden administration has aimed at what it calls a “Root Causes Strategy:" collaborating with other nations to cut border encounters by addressing the violence, organized crime, corruption, and poverty that drive many to flee Central America.

Reuters contributed to this report.