Posted on November 16, 2021

Biden’s New Border Problem: Nations Won’t Take Back Migrants

Stef W. Knight, Axios, November 15, 2021

Migrants fleeing countries that refuse to take them back are driving new backlogs in the U.S. immigration system — and White House and Homeland Security officials worry this poses a growing obstacle to balancing humanitarian and national security concerns.

Driving the news: U.S. officials at the southern border have come across an average of nearly 800 Venezuelan migrants each day for the past week— more than any other nationality except those from Mexico, according to internal immigration data obtained by Axios.

  • There are now more Venezuelans in border custody than any other nationality, followed closely by Nicaragua. A record 13,400 crossed the border in October.
  • More than 5,000 Cubans, Brazilians and Venezuelans crossed the dangerous Darién Gap into Panama last month, on top of more than 17,000 Haitians, according to Panamanian government data.


The big picture: Overall, numbers at the border are far lower than they were earlier this year, during the peak of children and families illegally crossing the U.S.-Mexico border.

  • But an unprecedented number of migrant adults are coming from countries that make deportation difficult, primarily Venezuela, Cuba, Nicaragua and Brazil.


Between the lines: Cuba and Venezuela are some of the least cooperative countries when it comes to U.S. efforts to return migrants who don’t qualify for asylum or other protections.

  • Brazil and Nicaragua accept a limited number of deportation flights but require extensive notice, and otherwise make it more difficult than other parts of the world.
  • Mexico also refuses migrants from these countries under the controversial pandemic-related policy called Title 42.