Record numbers of immigrants from Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua processed at US border in 2022

Officials at the US-Mexico border processed Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaraguan 572,500 times in fiscal year 2022 – eclipsing the number of immigrants from Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador who have been in US immigration detention during that period. Entered, recently released government figures show.

Historically, citizens of Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador, collectively known as the Northern Triangle of Central America, made up the bulk of Mexican migrants as well as migrants processed along the US southern border. But that trend was bucked over the past year with the arrival of record numbers of people from Cuba, Venezuela, Nicaragua and other countries including Colombia and Haiti.

Seismic demographic change has posed significant operational challenges for the Biden administration. On the one hand, authoritarian regimes in Cuba, Venezuela, Nicaragua have severely limited or denied the US deportation of their citizens, while Mexican authorities generally refused to accept the return of those migrants. who are not from Mexico or the Northern Triangle.

Arrests at the US and Mexico border top 2 million for the first time in a year
Migrants from Venezuela arrive at a reception center in El Paso, Texas, USA on September 22, 2022.

Paul Ratje / Bloomberg via Getty Images

In fiscal year 2022, US border officials said there were 220,908 encounters with Cubans, 187,716 with Venezuelans and 163,876 with Nicaragua, most of whom were allowed asylum. Migrants from Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador were processed 541,618 times.

Record arrivals from Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua were partly responsible for pushing the total number of migrant encounters along the southern border to nearly 2.4 million in fiscal year 2022, which exceeded the record set in 2021, according to CBP. statistics show.

A large number of border encounters in the last financial year involved migrants who entered the US illegally several times after being deported from Mexico. In addition, more than 1 million, or 45%, border encounters caused migrants to be expelled under Title 42, a Trump-era, pandemic-related order that requires officials to continue to a federal court. .

Overall illegal border entries, which include the known and estimated numbers of immigrants who enter the US illegally while escaping fear, were higher in the early 2000s, when border patrols had access to border crossings. There was less resources and manpower to catch the people, official figures performance.

In a statement Friday, CBP Commissioner Chris Magnus blamed “failed regimes in Venezuela, Cuba and Nicaragua” for triggering a “new wave of migration in the Western Hemisphere.”

In Cuba, discontent with the communist regime in Havana and the economic crisis has led to the exodus of thousands of Cubans hoping to reach the US, Nicaragua’s policy of allowing them to travel without a visa has made travel somewhat easier. . Nicaraguans have left their homeland for similar reasons, citing a lack of economic opportunities and opposition to the repressive government of Daniel Ortega.

Meanwhile, political turmoil and economic collapse in Venezuela have prompted 7 million Venezuelans to leave the country as part of the largest displacement crisis in US history, according to the United Nations.

Migration analysts said the unprecedented migrant arrivals from Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua are also driven by labor demands in the US as well as the knowledge that the US has a hard time deporting migrants from these countries.

The monthly record of 33,804 Venezuelans entering US border custody in September, US officials say, marks a sharp drop in illegal crossings by Venezuelan migrants since the Biden administration. announced A new detention effort earlier this month.

Last week, the Biden administration announced it would begin using Title 42 to deport Venezuelan migrants from Mexico as part of a deal with Mexican officials. It also unveiled a limited legal route for up to 24,000 Venezuelans to arrive at US airports if they have US-based financial sponsors willing to assist them.

An average of 154 Venezuelans are entering US border detention this week, according to government data provided by administration officials on Friday, an 86% drop from 1,131 a week before the US unveiled new policies for Venezuela.

Officials said they have recorded an 80% drop in migrants crossing Panama’s Darien Gap, a roadless forest that thousands of Venezuelans have crossed this year on their way to the US

One official said the US has received reports from Mexico and countries in Central America that Venezuelan migrants are “reconsidering their plans to come to the US and are either staying and finding safe places where they can go through this legal process.” may wait to apply or, in some cases, voluntarily return to where they came from.”

The Biden administration has yet to announce efforts to expel Cuban or Nicaraguan immigrants from Mexico or offer them the legal route that some Venezuelans have been offered. But administration officials have said they may consider expanding the private sponsorship process created for Venezuela.

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