Come Lawfully or Go Back: DHS Announces New Policy Regarding Illegal Immigration From Venezuela


Venezuelans wait to board a boat in the Colombian port town of Necocli, to cross into neighbouring Panama to continue their journey towards the United States, on October 11, 2022. (Photo by DANILO GOMEZ/AFP via Getty Images)

( – In a record-breaking year for illegal immigration, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas is finally doing something about it, but only as it applies to Venezuelans.

“Venezuelans should not travel to Mexico to pursue entry into the United States,” the Department of Homeland Security says.

Mayorkas has just created a new, lawful pathway for Venezuelans to enter the United States — to “help ease pressure on the cities and states receiving these individuals,” the news release said.

(The mayors of New York and Washington recently declared states of emergency following Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s decision to bus thousands of illegal migrants, many of them Venezuelans, to those “sanctuary” cities.)

DHS pointed to an almost four-fold increase in the number of Venezuelans attempting to cross the southern border this year, at the same time that migration from Central America has decreased.

“Effective immediately, Venezuelans who enter the United States between ports of entry, without authorization, will be returned to Mexico,” DHS said.

The effort to reduce “irregular migration of Venezuelans” includes a new process to “lawfully and safely bring up to 24,000 qualifying Venezuelans into the United States,” but only after they are vetted beforehand.

“Venezuelans approved via this process will be authorized on a case-by-case basis to travel to the United States by air directly to an interior port of entry, thus relieving pressure at the border. Once in the United States, they will be eligible to apply for work authorization,” DHS said.

Migrants from Venezuela arrive in Washington, D.C., by bus, dropped off outside the residence of Vice President Kamala Harris, at the Naval Observatory in Washington, DC, on September 15, 2022. (Photo by STEFANI REYNOLDS/AFP via Getty Images)

Migrants from Venezuela arrive in Washington, D.C., by bus, dropped off outside the residence of Vice President Kamala Harris, at the Naval Observatory in Washington, DC, on September 15, 2022. (Photo by STEFANI REYNOLDS/AFP via Getty Images)

To be eligible for lawful entry, Venezuelans must:

— have a supporter in the United States who will provide financial and other support;

— pass rigorous biometric and biographic national security and public safety screening and vetting; and

— complete vaccinations and other public health requirements.

Venezuelans are ineligible if they:

— have been ordered removed from the United States in the previous five years;

— have crossed without authorization between ports of entry after the date of announcement;

— have irregularly entered Mexico or Panama after the date of announcement, or are a permanent resident or dual national of any country other than Venezuela, or currently hold refugee status in any country; or

— have not completed vaccinations and other public health requirements.

DHS said the U.S. will not implement the new process unless Mexico accepts the return of Venezuelan nationals who bypass the process and attempt to enter irregularly.

DHS also said the U.S. and Mexico are “reinforcing” their enforcement operations to target human smuggling organizations.

“That campaign will include new migration checkpoints, additional resources and personnel, joint targeting of human smuggling organizations, and expanded information sharing related to transit nodes, hotels, stash houses, and staging locations,” DHS announced.

“These actions make clear that there is a lawful and orderly way for Venezuelans to enter the United States, and lawful entry is the only way,” said Mayorkas. “Those who attempt to cross the southern border of the United States illegally will be returned to Mexico and will be ineligible for this process in the future. Those who follow the lawful process will have the opportunity to travel safely to the United States and become eligible to work here.”

DHS said the new policy is “intended to enhance border security by reducing the number of Venezuelans seeking to irregularly enter the United States.” It is modeled after the process allowing for the lawful entry of Ukrainians fleeing Russia’s invasion.

DHS said it will closely monitor the implementation of this process as well as Mexico’s independent and parallel efforts, and may consider expanding it in the future.

The State Department will engage in a robust in-region messaging campaign to communicate the new policy and the consequences of attempting irregular entry.

According to DHS:

— More than 25 percent of Venezuela’s population has left the country; There are currently 2.4 million Venezuelans residing in Colombia. 

— Average monthly unique encounters of Venezuelan nationals at the land border exceeded 25,000 in August and 33,000 in September, compared to a monthly average of 127 unique encounters from FY 2014–2019. 

— Unique encounters of Venezuelan nationals rose 293 percent between FY 2021 and FY 2022, while unique encounters of all other nationalities combined increased 45 percent.

— Panama is currently seeing more than 3,000 people, mostly Venezuelan nationals, crossing into its territory from Colombia via the Darién jungle each day.

Las Vegas News Magazine

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