New plan allows some Venezuelans to apply to come to the U.S. It also expands Title 42

Published: Wednesday, October 12, 2022 - 5:28pm

The Biden administration has a new program that will allow some Venezuelan migrants with U.S. ties to enter on a temporary basis. 

As part of the program, Venezuelans can apply for a two-year immigration status called humanitarian parole. As the Los Angeles Times reports, federal officials say applicants must have a U.S. sponsor ready to support them financially. The program is similar to another undertaken by the U.S. for Ukrainians. Many Afghan evacuees were also given the status to enter the U.S. last fall. 

But Venezuelans caught crossing the border without permission will be ineligible for the new program and sent back to Mexico by U.S. border authorities under the pandemic-era protocol Title 42.

Venezuelans were not previously subject to Title 42 because the Mexican government had not agreed to accept them until now.

The U.S. has carried out more than a million so-called expulsions using the protocol since 2020. But U.S. officers can only remove people whose nationalities Mexico has agreed to accept — including Guatemalans, Hondurans, Salvadorans and Haitians. 

Danilo Zak with the National Immigration Forum says expanding protocol that blocks the legal right to asylum is a bad idea. 

"And it does raise concerns about whether the administration really is set on ending this policy that is really causing a lot of harm to migrants but also isn’t doing anything to reduce migration flows or deter immigration, which is something we know rarely works with enforcement policies," he said. 

Federal officials reported more than 2 million apprehensions along the border in the 2022 fiscal year, which ended last month. It was a record high, though analysts note that the number of repeat crossings has also been at record highs since the implementation of Title 42.

Under the protocol, migrants don't face the same legal repercussions for crossing the border more than once and are largely unable to access asylum at ports of entry.

Zak says economic strain and government oppression are forcing more Venezuelans to leave and allowing more people to pursue faster protection statuses like humanitarian parole is a start. Still, the status is temporary. He says the best way to respond to that and other crises is to make asylum possible again.