U.S. and Mexican officials have agreed to a plan to curb the growing influx of Venezuelans between the two countries. The U.S. could deport Venezuelans to Mexico while providing humanitarian access to thousands more by air.
A plan to curb illegal immigration along the U.S.-Mexico border was announced Wednesday less than a month before the U.S. midterm elections, which threaten to cost Democratic President Joe Biden control of Congress.
Both governments said in a statement that U.S. officials will fly in 24,000 Venezuelan migrants.
US President Joe Biden during a speech in Washington in August – Photo: Jim Watson/Poole via REUTERS
“These actions make clear that there is a legal and orderly way for Venezuelans to enter the United States, and that legal entry is the only way,” Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorgas said in a statement.
“Anyone attempting to illegally cross the southern border of the United States will be returned to Mexico and will not be able to participate in this process in the future.”
Biden has struggled politically to deal with record U.S. immigration bans fueled by popular uprisings from Venezuela and Cuba and Nicaragua.
His Republican opponents, who are seeking control of Congress in the Nov. 8 elections, criticize what they see as Biden’s failure to secure the border.
Both governments said the US-Mexico plan would be based on the “Unity for Ukraine” plan. Under the plan, Ukrainians would be able to enter the United States after Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24.
The timeline for the Venezuelan enrollment was unclear, and in a call with reporters, U.S. officials did not explain how they arrived at the 24,000 figure.
Mexico, meanwhile, said it would “temporarily” allow some Venezuelan citizens to enter Mexico from the United States, without specifying a number, to deal with increased flows.
Many Venezuelans make the dangerous crossing through the Panamanian jungle to reach the United States – Photo: Getty Images
Between October 2021 and August 2022, 150,000 Venezuelans were detained at the US-Mexico border, according to US data.
Mexican officials argue that economic sanctions against Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro’s government are fueling illegal immigration and should be eased.
A Mexican official said the U.S. was deporting hundreds of Venezuelans to Mexico before the plan was announced. U.S. statistics show 453 Venezuelans were expelled in August, the most recent data available.
To be eligible for the New Entry Program, a US-based person or organization must sponsor the immigrant’s application and enter the US by air.
Applicants should not travel to the US-Mexico border. Venezuelans who enter Mexico or Panama illegally after October 12 are not eligible for the program.
At Mexico’s request, the United States will issue an additional 65,000 temporary visas to immigrants for non-agricultural work, the Mexican government said. 20,000 of these visas will be issued to Central Americans and Haitians.
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