Immigration activists dismayed at Biden move to expand Title 42 to Venezuelan illegal migrants

Immigration activist groups are expressing their concern with the Biden administration’s announcement that it will start expelling Venezuelans to Mexico using the Title 42 public health order — reducing entry pathways to a limited parole program.

The Department of Homeland Security announced Wednesday that it is launching a new large-scale border enforcement operation with Mexico that includes increased checkpoints, a surge in resources and a crackdown on human smuggling. 

The administration also announced that all Venezuelans entering the U.S. illegally would now be returned to Mexico under the Title 42 public health order — which was implemented during the Trump administration due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The order allows for the rapid expulsion of migrants and is one that the Biden administration has been seeking to end, but has been stopped by a legal challenge.

There were more than 25,000 encounters of Venezuelan migrants in August, up from just 4,000 in April. Last August, there were just over 6,000 migrant encounters from Venezuela. It comes as part of a massive flow of migrants that has seen more than 2.1 million encounters this fiscal year.

Simultaneously, the administration announced a new parole program that would allow for up to 24,000 Venezuelans to enter the U.S. if they meet certain conditions. The program requires Venezuelans to have a supporter in the U.S. to provide financial and other support, pass biometric and other security screenings, and complete public health requirements including vaccinations. It is similar to a program announced earlier in the year for eligible Ukrainians.

Nationals would be ineligible for the program if they have previously been deported, have crossed into the U.S. or into Mexico illegally after Tuesday, or have residence status or refugee status in a country other than Venezuela. DHS said the program will be stopped if Mexico stops accepting Venezuelan returns.

‘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,’ Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said in a statement. ‘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.’

The moves come as the administration has been hammered by Republicans for failing to control the border crisis — a claim that the administration has denied. Meanwhile, governors of Texas, Arizona and Florida have been bussing and flying migrants — including many Venezuelans — north to Democratic cities and jurisdictions.

However, immigration activists, while happy to see the introduction of the parole program, were dismayed by the increase of the use of Title 42 — which they say denies migrants their right to claim asylum in the U.S.

Murad Awawdeh, executive director of the New York Immigration Coalition, accused the administration of making ‘an end run around our humanitarian obligations.’

‘By bending to the callous whims of Republican governors in Texas, Arizona and Florida as this country gears up for midterm elections, the Biden Administration has taken multiple steps backwards in time to the cruel immigration policies of Donald Trump,’ he said in a statement.


‘America must uphold an asylum system that is fair, humane, and orderly for all people regardless of nationality, race, ethnicity or having U.S. ties. It is time for Title 42 to be ended once and for all. It is time for the Biden Administration to make good on its promises and return America to being a beacon of hope,’ he said.

Activists have long claimed that Title 42 is cruel and sends people back to Mexico, where they can be placed in danger. Many demand that migrants be allowed to claim asylum, even if they enter the U.S. illegally and do not make claims at ports of entry.

The Texas-based Migrant Center for Human Rights claimed the new policy ‘blatantly violates the law.’

‘Allowing only a subset of 24,000 Venezuelans, those with ‘supporter[s] in the United States who will provide financial and other support’ to come, is no panacea to this policy’s blanket expulsion of all Venezuelan asylum seekers, especially considering the 15,494 average monthly FY 2022 unique encounters (with over 25,000 in August and 33,000 in September),’ the group said in a statement. 

‘DHS Secretary Mayorkas’ claim that this policy ‘make[s] clear that there is a lawful and orderly way for Venezuelans to enter the United States, and lawful entry is the only way’ shockingly ignores the situation of tens of thousands fleeing persecution made ineligible for this process and disregards foundational American law that states it is legal to seek asylum in this country regardless of manner of entry.’

The American Immigration Council welcomed the parole program and urged the government to ‘expand similar parole options for people from other countries as well.’

‘Unfortunately, the administration also announced the expansion of #Title42 expulsions for Venezuelans encountered at the southern border,’ the group said. ‘Title 42 has no basis in law or science and must end. Period. ‘

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