SAN DIEGO (HPD) — The administration of U.S. President Joe Biden is developing plans to grant humanitarian parole to Venezuelans with financial backers to allow them to enter the United States, a measure similar to that given to Ukrainians after the invasion. from Russia, officials said.
Four officials outlined extensively on Tuesday the plan to deal with the large increase in the number of Venezuelans arriving at the US border with Mexico. The sources spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the matter publicly.
Venezuelans who cross the border illegally by land could be immediately returned to Mexico, two of the officials said. Currently, Mexico only accepts migrants expelled from the United States under the authority of Title 42 — a regulation dating from the pandemic that denies migrants the right to seek asylum on US soil and is designed to prevent the spread of COVID -19— if they come from Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras and Mexico itself.
Venezuelans who qualify for humanitarian parole could enter the United States through airports, two of the officials said, similar to a program introduced in April that allows Ukrainians with financial sponsors to stay for up to two years.
The officials categorically stressed that the discussions proceeded smoothly and plans could change. CNN and The New York Times were the first outlets to report on the initiative on Tuesday.
Although strong doubts remain — such as how many people will be able to access the humanitarian parole and where Venezuelans will be able to take the planes — the discussions show concern about what has become a great challenge for the authorities in the United States, Mexico and Central America, and in a test of a hemispheric agreement reached in June in Los Angeles so that the countries that receive migrants face the problems jointly.
The Department of Homeland Security did not respond Tuesday night to a request for comment.
Mexico’s foreign ministry said it would provide details when the talks conclude.
The secretariat said that there are talks on a new approach that includes migration from Mexico and the countries of northern Central America, as well as from Haiti, Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua in an orderly manner and with access to employment options.
Venezuelans recently surpassed Guatemalans and Hondurans to become the second-largest nationality detained at the US border after Mexicans. In August, Venezuelans were detained 25,349 times, a 43% increase over the 17,652 times in July and four times the 6,301 encounters in August 2021, showing a sudden and notable demographic shift.
It is estimated that 6.8 million Venezuelans have fled their country due to the economic crisis in 2014, mainly to countries in Latin America and the Caribbean. But given the relative strength of the US economy since the COVID-19 pandemic, Venezuelan migrants have turned north.
Additionally, strained relations with the Venezuelan government make it extremely difficult to return them to their country under Title 42 authority, encouraging increased arrivals.
Mexico, faced with demands from the Biden government, imposed restrictions on air travel in January to limit Venezuelan migration to the United States, but many then chose to take the dangerous land route that includes crossing the famous Darien region in Panama.
The plan being developed seeks to dissuade Venezuelans from undertaking the dangerous journey overland and is similar to the humanitarian parole granted to Ukrainians. The government has pledged to admit up to 100,000 people fleeing the Russian invasion and has taken in tens of thousands, including nearly 17,000 in August.
“United for Ukraine,” as the program is called, put an end to a short-lived practice in which people flew into Mexico as tourists and then presented themselves at border crossings with the United States.
Associated Press writers Matthew Lee and Colleen Long in Washington and María Verza in Mexico City contributed to this report.