BOGOTA – COLOMBIA, 03-07-2020: Several immigrants from Venezuela with suitcases on the street waiting to return to their country. (Shutterstock)
WASHINGTON D.C.: The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced a new parole program today that will allow certain Venezuelans to apply for temporary entry from abroad, while expanding Title 42 expulsions of other Venezuelans to Mexico.
According to officials, the parole program is modeled after one used to allow Ukrainians entry following the Russian invasion, and will initially be capped at 24,000 Venezuelans. Each applicant requires a sponsor in the U.S. to initiate the process and commit to providing financial support. In addition, Venezuelans would be required to have a valid passport, and to clear security and health screenings before being granted a travel document for entry to the U.S. via flight. The parole determination would then be made at the port of entry.
However, Venezuelans who do not go through the new process and who cross the southern border without authorization will be expelled to Mexico under Title 42, a Trump-era pandemic rule that has barred asylum seekers from exercising their legal right to seek protection. Mexico did not previously accept expulsions of Venezuelans, largely because of shelter capacity constraints and deportation challenges.
Since its implementation in March 2020, Title 42 has resulted in over 2.3 million expulsions without due process. At least 9,886 instances of kidnapping, torture, rape, and other violent attacks on people blocked in or expelled to Mexico due to the policy have been documented during the Biden administration.
In response to the announcement, Krish O’Mara Vignarajah, President and CEO of Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service said: “This new humanitarian avenue is a welcome step towards providing protection and recognizing the crisis in Venezuela requires our attention and creative solutions. The program, however, should not be viewed as a replacement for asylum protections enshrined in both U.S. and international law. It provides only temporary protection to a very limited subset of the millions of Venezuelans forced to leave their homeland.
Far more troubling is the expansion of Title 42 expulsions that will now apply to Venezuelans attempting to assert their legal right to seek asylum. This will undoubtedly and disproportionately impact Venezuelans who do not have close U.S. ties, but who are nonetheless deserving of due process and protection. That their expulsions will be cloaked in public health concerns just weeks after President Biden declared the pandemic ‘over’ is deeply disturbing.
Amid an unprecedented global displacement crisis, the Biden administration must use every tool in its toolkit, including parole, asylum, and refugee programs. Regardless of their nationality or ties to the U.S., everyone should be able to access a fair, orderly, and humane immigration system.”