The first group of Venezuelan migrants sponsored by US residents under a new Biden administration politics The US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) said it arrived in the US over the weekend to help prevent illegal border crossings.
Four Venezuelans approved to enter the United States under the private sponsorship program arrived Saturday on flights from Mexico, Guatemala and Peru, DHS officials said. The new arrivals show that the sponsorship process has been implemented quickly since the US government began accepting applications from potential sponsors on Tuesday.
Hundreds of other Venezuelans have also been granted approval to book their trip to the US, where DHS says they will be granted humanitarian parole, a temporary quasi-status that allows them to legally work in the US for at least two years and to live officials.
Modeled on a similar program by the Biden administration that has allowed tens of thousands of Ukrainians to come to the United States since the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the Venezuelan migrant sponsorship process was announced last week as part of a strategy to dissuade Venezuelans to discourage crossing the southern US border illegally.
More than 187,000 Venezuelans crossed the U.S.-Mexico border without legal permission in fiscal year 2022, which ended September 30, a record that made Venezuela the fifth-largest source of unauthorized migration to the U.S. during that 12-month span, Show Customs and Border Protection (CBP) statistics.
The arrival of tens of thousands of migrants from Venezuela at the US border last year is part of a mass exodus of Venezuelans fleeing their home country’s economic collapse and political unrest. More than seven million people have left Venezuela, the largest refugee crisis on record in America, according to the United Nations.
To deter further arrivals at the US border, the Biden administration said Oct. 12 it had persuaded Mexico to accept the return of migrants from Venezuela Title 42a pandemic-era rule that allows immigration officials to quickly expel migrants on public health grounds without allowing them to seek asylum.
The large-scale deportation of Venezuelans to Mexico is a stark departure from the fate of Venezuelan migrants who reached the US before the policy took effect. Prior to the announcement, most Venezuelan migrants to the US were released and allowed to seek asylum as Venezuela’s repressive government has refused to accept the return of its citizens.
The Biden administration simultaneously announced the sponsorship process Oct. 12, saying it was committed to allowing up to 24,000 Venezuelans to legally enter the United States at airports if U.S. residents would agree to their temporary relocation to sponsor financially.
To discourage Venezuelans from continuing to travel to the US, the Biden administration said those who entered the US, Mexico or Panama illegally after the policy was announced would not be eligible for the sponsorship program.
The migration of Venezuelans to the US often involves a days-long journey on foot through Panama’s notorious Darién Gap, a jungle that connects the country to Colombia, which attracted more than 150,000 migrants — 107,000 of them from Venezuela — according to Panamanian government statistics this year have crossed .
On Friday, Biden administration officials said they had received evidence their strategy was working, including reports that Venezuelans were stopping in third countries to reevaluate their travel or returning to Venezuela or other countries they had left.
An average of 154 Venezuelans entered US border custody every day this week, down 86% from the average of 1,131 in the week before the Biden administration unveiled the new policy on Venezuelans, according to government data provided by officials.
While probation will allow Venezuelans with US sponsors to work and live in the US without fear of deportation, it will not give them permanent legal status. To secure permanent residency in the US, Venezuelans would need to apply for—and receive—an immigration benefit such as asylum.
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