The Department of Homeland Security on Wednesday confirmed CNN reports that it will roll out a new program geared toward Venezuelan immigrants seeking to come to the United States and return those who cross the border illegally to Mexico.
CNN first reported that the proposal was under consideration on Tuesday.
The program for Venezuelans is similar to the administration’s approach to Ukrainians earlier this year. They will have to apply, obtain a sponsor in the US and undergo screening and audits, as well as full vaccinations. The Department of Homeland Security said up to 24,000 Venezuelans would be admitted.
The program comes amid an influx of immigrants of those nationalities at the US-Mexico border, straining federal resources and border cities. In August, 55,333 migrants found at the border were from Venezuela, Cuba or Nicaragua, up 175% from last August, according to the Department of Homeland Security.
“These actions demonstrate that there is a legal and orderly way for Venezuelans to enter the United States, and legal entry is the only way,” Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mallorcas said in a statement.
The plan is intended to be an expanded and more structured process. If the immigrants meet the criteria and are approved, they will be released on parole in the United States at an airport with the ability to work legally as well.
Disqualified Venezuelans include those who have been ordered to be removed from the United States in the past five years, have illegally crossed the border after Wednesday’s announcement or entered illegally into Panama or Mexico after the announcement date. Thousands of Venezuelan immigrants pass through Panama on their way to the United States.
Venezuelan immigrants will now also be returned to Mexico under Trump-era pandemic emergency restrictions if they cross the US-Mexico border, marking a significant departure from the previous one.
It was management officials wrestling with exodus across the Western Hemisphere for months, stressing the need for all countries to help ease the flow and create better conditions in the country. The issue was a topic of discussion again last week at a meeting of foreign ministers in Lima, Peru.
The shift in demographics—with many immigrants now from Venezuela, Cuba, and Nicaragua—is uniquely difficult for the United States due in part to lukewarm relations with those countries that largely prevent the administration from turning people away from those countries.
The plan is an acknowledgment of the fact that Venezuelans are largely being released in the United States while they do so immigration Procedures and, in some cases, have family or friends join them in the country.
The Biden administration took an approach similar to the one under consideration with Ukrainians fleeing their war-torn country, allowing them entry into the United States as well as the ability to work temporarily. This program was set up to avoid Ukrainians entering the US-Mexico border and undergoing an orderly process.
Poor economic conditions, food shortages, and limited access to health care are increasingly driving Venezuelans to leave — posing an urgent and severe challenge to management as thousands reach the southern border of the United States.
More than 6 million Venezuelans They fled their country amid the deteriorating conditions, Ukraine matches the number of displaced people and surpasses Syria, according to the United Nations. More than 1,000 Venezuelans are arrested along the US-Mexico border daily, according to a Homeland Security official.
Venezuelans apprehended at the US-Mexico border are generally released into the US under the Immigration and Customs Enforcement program, which monitors people using ankle monitors, phones, or a GPS-enabled app while they are in procedures their immigration.
A jump in the movement of Venezuelans in the hemisphere occurred during a White House meeting last month with 19 countries in the Western Hemisphere, a senior administration official told CNN earlier.
“We found that lack of coordination leads to more immigrants being exploited,” the senior administration official said. “There is consensus that there is value in working closely and trying to synchronize our policies.”
This story was updated with additional information Wednesday.
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