Biden admin’s border moves to tackle Venezuelan migrant surge draws criticism from left and right

The Biden administration this week announced measures to deal with a surge in Venezuelan migration across the southern border, but the combination of an expansion of Title 42 deportations and a new humanitarian parole has left lawmakers and activists on both the right and the left upset.

The Department of Homeland Security announced Wednesday that it is launching a new large-scale border enforcement operation with Mexico, coupled with an expansion of deportations of Venezuelan nationals.

As part of the campaign, Mexico and the US will increase checkpoints for migrants, work together to fight people smuggling, and increase resources and law enforcement personnel.

But crucially, the collaboration also means that any Venezuelans entering the US illegally would now be returned to Mexico under Title 42 of the Public Health Ordinance. The Venezuelans had not been repatriated under the order due to a lack of diplomatic ties with Venezuela and a refusal by Mexico to take them in.


Venezuelans are put on buses after being expelled from the US under Title 42.

Venezuelans are put on buses after being expelled from the US under Title 42.
(Fox News)

At the same time, the government is launching a new parole program to offer Venezuelan nationals a legal route to fly to the United States. With a cap of just 24,000, the humanitarian parole program requires Venezuelans to have a supporter in the US to provide financial and other support, pass biometric and other security checks, and meet public health requirements, including immunizations. It’s similar to a program announced for earlier this year eligible Ukrainians. Nationals are not eligible for the program if they have previously been deported or entered the United States or Mexico illegally.

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The measures come as the government continues to deal with a historic border crisis of more than 2.1 million encounters in this fiscal year alone – including a recent surge of nationals from Venezuela.

It was more than 25,000 encounters between Venezuelan migrants in August, down from just 4,000 in April. In August last year there were just over 6,000 encounters with migrants from Venezuela. It has led to increased political pressure on the government, with governors from Texas, Arizona and Florida transporting migrants north – many of them from Venezuela.

The administration tried to present the measures as giving priority to legitimate entry and deterring illegal entry.

“These actions make clear that there is a lawful and orderly way for Venezuelans to enter the United States and that lawful entry is the only way,” Homeland Security Minister Alejandro Mayorkas said in a statement. “Those attempting to illegally cross the southern border of the United States will be returned to Mexico and will no longer be eligible for this procedure in the future. Those who follow the lawful process will have the opportunity to safely travel to the United States and become eligible to work here.”

But the program received a mixed reception from both left and right. Senator Bob Menendez, D-NJ, hailed the government’s legal path but hit the administration hard on expanding Title 42 – a move he called “inexcusable.”

“Expanding Title 42 to Venezuelans adds salt to an open wound while also undermining our asylum system, which President Biden has promised to restore,” he said in a statement.

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He urged the administration to reconsider the eviction, lift some restrictions on the parole program, and continue to seek the end of Title 42 in court as before.

Meanwhile, immigration activists have been similarly upset with the policy. Murad Awawdeh, executive director of the New York Immigration Coalition, accused the government of “putting an end to our humanitarian obligations.”

“By bowing 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 several steps backwards in time to Donald Trump’s cruel immigration policies,” he said in a statement.


Dozens of nongovernmental organizations, including the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), Human Rights Watch, RAICES and the Southern Poverty Law Center, wrote to Mayorkas, expressing “deep disappointment and shock” at the announcement of expanded Title 42 deportations.

“While we welcome steps to allow some Venezuelans safe processing, creating safe routes should never be used to deny other protection-seekers access to asylum,” they wrote in a letter. “We are also concerned that the announcement describes the attempted entry by Venezuelans at the southern border as ‘illegal’.”

Meanwhile, the announcement didn’t sit well with Republicans and right-wing groups either.

Immigration activists, dismayed at Biden, want to extend Title 42 to illegal migrants from Venice

John Katko, senior member of the House Homeland Security Committee, called the move a “cynical and inadequate attempt to address the unprecedented South West border crisis over which this administration has completely lost control”.

“With the midterm election just around the corner, the Biden administration is seeing the writing on the wall and is just trying to put a band-aid on a bleeding border to save face,” the Republican said in a statement.

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Describing it as a “PR stunt,” he said the policy is also “ripe for abuse and will likely contribute to migrants divulging inaccurate information about their country of origin when attempting to enter the interior of the country.”

Meanwhile, Hawkish immigrant groups remained unimpressed. “If Venezuelans can be sent back to Mexico, why can’t all migrants, regardless of country of origin?” RJ Hauman, director of government relations and communications at the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), told Fox News Digital on Wednesday.


However, the new policy was praised by Democrats. In New York, where officials have been overwhelmed with the flow of migrants coming north on buses and other transportation, the move said the influx of individuals would be stemmed.

“While details are still emerging, this federal action is a short-term step to address this humanitarian crisis and humanely manage the flow of border crossings,” NYC Mayor Eric Adams said in a statement, arguing that a “long-term and proactive strategy is still required” by Congress.

“We are grateful to President Biden and his administration for our ongoing dialogue to address this humanitarian crisis, and we look forward to continuing to work closely with them in the future,” he said.


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