A Sudden, Dramatic Restriction for Venezuelan Migration to the U.S.

The Biden administration is using a measure created during the Trump presidency to deport to Mexico all Venezuelan migrants who are stopped after illegally entering the country by land. Another announcement promotes sponsored arrival under a list of conditions

Sofía Jaimes Barreto

Yesterday, the Biden administration announced it will offer a legal path to the US for 24,000 Venezuelans via a humanitarian parole plan. At the same time, it also extended a rule to expel Venezuelans who enter the country illegally.

Venezuelans who apply for the parole program must be sponsored, that is, to have a person or organization in the United States that can prove that is able to financially support the individual for at least two years. During the application process, the government will evaluate the sponsor’s finances and vet the applicants. Venezuelans who are granted parole will be temporarily allowed to work legally in the United States.

According to Betilde Muñoz Pogossian, there are some worrisome aspects behind this new measure:  “No one doubts that the U.S. is within its right to adopt measures to have safe, orderly and regular migration, in particular for Venezuelans who continue to face a complex humanitarian emergency. But the measure adopted yesterday is restrictive and has the potential of placing Venezuelan people who seek to come to the U.S to settle in new situations of vulnerability.”

The problems with these measures

  1. The number: 24,000 quotas is insignificant compared to the volume of people leaving Venezuela and traveling to the US. With more than 7 million migrants according to the RV4 platform until October 2022, Venezuelan migration competes or surpasses those of Ukraine and Syria. 
  2. The requirements: demanding a sponsorship from someone in the U.S. is the first limitation and appeals only to reasons of family reunification, and not to those linked to the humanitarian and human rights crisis in the country. What can people do without a sponsor?
  3. The finances: some financial backup is required. Considering the socio-economic conditions of the displaced Venezuelans, this measure is discriminatory because it takes away the possibility of the vast majority that do not have the support and privileges of wealthier groups that are going to be able to demonstrate that financial backing.
  4. The deportations: the strategy to return the displaced Venezuelans to Mexico is going to make many more people vulnerable. The measure does not clarify what will happen to them. Will they wait in Mexican shelters for answers to the asylum request? With the numbers of people already there, the arrival and return of Venezuelans are going to put more pressure and fewer resources for that assistance at the Mexican border.

What’s the logic behind the measure?

The situation with Venezuelan migrants and refugees crossing the southern border was getting out of hand.  “The U.S. needed measures to make the process more orderly. But this measure is insufficient as compared to the number of in need of protection and could also use accompanying measures to fill the gaps of the current protection framework,” says Muñoz Pogossian.  

What would be an effective measure?

According to Muñoz Pogossian, “maybe a package of measures aimed at reducing the risk of population, and guaranteeing a more regular entrance to the country. You could have the 24k sponsored visas, while also redoubling the infrastructure to analyze asylum applications and speeding up the answers, without taking away the right of people to request asylum at the border. Making available work visas would also help, as well as faster analysis of the cases of Venezuelans with family reunification visa applications while guaranteeing the right to family reunification with or without sponsors.”