Posted on February 10, 2022

Migrants Are Surging into the U.S. And Europe. Western Leaders Are Trying to Stop Them.

Anthony Faiola, Washington Post, February 6, 2022

On the Biden-Harris 2020 campaign website, the Democratic duo who would go on to occupy the White House pledged to “reassert America’s commitment to asylum seekers and refugees.” Liberal critics chastised the administration last year for seemingly violating that promise by indiscriminately deporting thousands of Haitian migrants back to their violence-plagued homeland. Now the administration is facing the same criticism again — this time for taking aim at a surge of Venezuelans funneling across the U.S. border.

The deportations happen as illegal immigration lurches back across the politically polarized West. From the U.S.-Mexico border to the Central Mediterranean, the early pandemic lull in irregular crossings has evaporated, leading to a rush of migrants. Irregular border crossings into the European Union last year climbed to nearly 200,000, jumping 57 percent over 2020 numbers and reaching levels not seen since 2017. U.S. officials apprehended 178,840 migrants at the southwest border in December, nearly two-and-a-half times the number recorded in the same month a year earlier.


The Department of Homeland Security — and later the White House — confirmed last week that the United States will start returning Venezuelan migrants who had previously settled in Colombia back to that country, which is home to the single largest Venezuelan diaspora. The administration, as my colleague Nick Miroff reported, is expelling the Venezuelans under Title 42 — a controversial emergency provision previously used by the Trump administration that cites pandemic health concerns for deporting migrants without first giving them to chance to apply for asylum protection under U.S. law.

For some Venezuelans, Colombia amounts to a safe enough country given an extraordinary effort there to legalize more than 1.7 million migrants from its socialist neighbor. But last week, a report by Telemundo indicated the Biden administration may have gone even further by deporting Venezuelans back to brutal conditions in their authoritarian state via a third country — exactly the tactic Biden had personally blasted President Donald Trump for using ahead of the 2020 election.

“It’s abundantly clear he has no regard for the suffering of the Venezuelan people,” Biden said of Trump in 2020 after reports that Venezuelans were being deported back to their country via Trinidad and Tobago.


The Biden administration has also been, in some respects, a victim of its own kindness. The administration had largely refrained from using Title 42 on Haitians during the first part of 2021, allowing thousands to be processed on asylum claims and released into the United States, particularly families with children. As word of mouth spread to other Haitians living in countries like Chile and Brazil, the ranks of Haitians making a run for the United States from those countries swelled. It was only after thousands had crammed under bridges and roadsides in Del Rio, Tex., and President Biden was savaged on Fox News and other outlets over a narrative of a free-for-all at the border, that the administration resorted to summary deportations of the Haitians under Title 42.

A similar surge is happening now with Venezuelans. The United States stopped 24,819 Venezuelans in December, up from 206 the same month in 2020. That jump came after a year in which the administration had showed extreme restraint in using Title 42 against them, according to border agency data.