Venezuela’s first group with US sponsors arrived under new immigration program

First group of Venezuelan immigrants sponsored by US-based individuals under new Biden administration Policy The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) said over the weekend it was designed to prevent illegal border crossings into the US.

DHS officials said four Venezuelans arrived in the US on Saturday on flights from Mexico, Guatemala and Peru as part of a private sponsorship program. The arrival shows that the sponsorship process has begun to accelerate as the US government begins accepting applications from potential sponsors on Tuesday.

According to the DHS, hundreds of additional Venezuelans have also been approved to book their travel to the US, where they will be granted humanitarian parole, a temporary quasi-status that allows them to legally work in the US for at least two years. and will be allowed to stay. Officer.

Venezuela migrant crisis
A group of Venezuelan migrants called “walkers” walk the highway between San Cristóbal and the Venezuelan border city of San Antonio del Tachira on September 24, 2022, to cross the border into Colombia and enter the United States’ own to continue the journey.

Yuri Cortez/AFP/Getty Images

Modeled after a similar Biden administration program, which has allowed thousands of Ukrainians to immigrate to the US since the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the sponsorship process for Venezuelan immigrants announced last week from crossing the US south to Venezuela This was done under a tactic of discouragement. illegal border

More than 187,000 Venezuelans crossed the US-Mexico border without legal permission in the 2022 fiscal year, which ended on September 30, a record that made Venezuela the fifth largest source of unauthorized migration into the US during that 12-month period. Given, figures from Customs and Border Protection (CBP).

The arrival of thousands of migrants from Venezuela to the US border over the past year is part of a mass exodus from Venezuelans fleeing their homeland’s economic collapse and political turmoil. According to the United Nations, more than seven million people have left Venezuela, the biggest refugee crisis ever recorded in the US.

To prevent further arrivals at the US border, on October 12 the Biden administration said it had persuaded Mexico to accept the return of migrants from Venezuela. title 42A pandemic-era rule that allows immigration agents to quickly remove migrants on public health grounds, without allowing them to request asylum.

The mass expulsion of Venezuelans into Mexico is a distinct departure from the fate of Venezuelan immigrants who arrived in the US before the policy took effect. Prior to the announcement, most Venezuelan immigrants had been released to the US and allowed to seek asylum, as Venezuela’s repressive government refused to accept the return of its citizens.

The Biden administration simultaneously announced the sponsorship process on October 12, saying it was committed to allowing 24,000 Venezuelans to legally enter the US at airports if US-based individuals could finance their temporary resettlement. solemnly agree to sponsor.

In a bid to discourage Venezuelans from continuing to travel to the US, the Biden administration said those who illegally entered the US, Mexico or Panama after the policy was announced would be disqualified for the sponsorship program.

According to Panamanian government figures, Venezuelan treks to the Americas often include a day-long trek across Panama’s infamous Darren Gap, a jungle connecting the country to Colombia, which has seen more than 150,000 migrants – 107,000 of them from Venezuela. . ,

On Friday, Biden administration officials said they had found evidence that their strategy was working, including reports that Venezuelans were stopping to reevaluate their travel in third countries, or Venezuela or others. countries were returning.

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

While parole would allow Venezuelans with US sponsors to work and live in the US without fear of deportation, it would not grant them permanent legal status. To secure permanent US residency, Venezuelans must apply for – and be granted – an immigration benefit like asylum.

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