Posted on October 15, 2022

U.S. Will Begin Turning Many Venezuelan Migrants Back to Mexico

William Melhado, Texas Tribune, October 12, 2022

The Biden administration plans to turn most Venezuelan migrants crossing the southern border back to Mexico, which was previously not allowed, the Department of Homeland Security announced Wednesday.

The border policy also creates a pathway to bring as many as 24,000 “qualified” Venezuelans into the country. The plan includes a joint effort by the United States and Mexico to crack down on human smuggling operations by establishing new migration checkpoints and additional resources to target trafficking operations.

The new policy comes as the number of migrants crossing into the U.S. has surged in recent years. It also comes ahead of a midterm election in which immigration is frequently a top issue among likely Texas voters.

“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 Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas in the announcement.

He added that Venezuelans who attempt to cross the border without authorization will not only be returned to Mexico but also ineligible to apply for entry into the country in the future.


Federal immigration agents have recorded 2.1 million encounters at the Southwest border — a record number — in the first 11 months of fiscal year 2022, which ended Sept. 30. That’s a 24% increase from the entire previous fiscal year. According to federal government statistics, immigration agents encountered nearly 154,000 Venezuelans along the U.S.-Mexico border in the first 11 months of that fiscal year — a 216% increase from the entire previous fiscal year. {snip}

To be “qualified,” Venezuelans seeking entry into the United States will require someone agreeing to provide financial support and will need to pass background checks.

In March 2020, the Trump administration invoked an emergency health order known as Title 42, which immigration agents have used to immediately send back to Mexico many people trying to cross the border, including asylum-seekers, without having to file charges and wait on the formal deportation process.

But prior to Biden’s announcement on Wednesday, Venezuelans couldn’t be sent across the border under Title 42 because they’re on the list of nationalities Mexico wouldn’t accept. But Wednesday’s announcement called the new policies a joint venture between the U.S. and Mexico. Venezuelan migrants can’t be deported back to their country because the U.S. severed diplomatic ties with Venezuela in 2019. Instead, they have been released to local shelters.

Last week, immigration agents released 6,800 migrants, many of them Venezuelans, into El Paso, a 300% weekly increase from nearly two months ago, according to El Paso’s “migrant crisis” online dashboard.