The government announced Sunday that Venezuelan migrants will not be allowed to enter the United States. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) issued a statement outlining the increased restrictions with a series of measures to be implemented immediately.
The document states that going forward, and due to the vast increase in illegal immigration of Venezuelans, illegal migrants will be returned to Mexico and will no longer be able to apply under the legal asylum process:
Effective immediately, Venezuelans who enter the United States between ports of entry, without authorization, will be returned to Mexico
Secretary of Homeland Security, Alejandro Mayorkas, stated that "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." Mayorkas stressed that "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."
According to information shared by DHS, the level of illegal immigration by Venezuelans has increased dramatically in recent years. Individaul encounters of Venezuelan nationals increased by 293% between FY2021 and FY2022, while individual encounters of all other nationalities combined, increased by 45%. The average monthly encounters of Venezuelan nationals at the land border rose to 15,494 in FY2022, increasing further to over 25,000 in August and 33,000 in September, compared to a monthly average of 127 respective encounters from FY2014-2019.
The Department of Homeland Security also reports that more than 25% of Venezuela's population has left the country. A departure in which they often fall into the hands of smuggling organizations. Under this pretext, the DHS is seeking to limit the impact of Venezuelan immigration by increasing restrictions and punishing those who attempt to enter the country illegally:
Almost four times as many Venezuelans as last year attempted to cross our southern border, placing their lives in the hands of ruthless smuggling organizations. Meanwhile, illegal migration from northern Central America is down by a quarter from the level encountered last year. The actions the United States and Mexico are announcing today, are intended to address the most acute illegal migration and help ease pressure on the cities and states receiving these individuals.
Legal and orderly entry into the country
DHS indicated that they will legally and safely accept up to 24,000 qualified Venezuelan migrants to reside within the United States. However, Homeland Security emphasizes that "the United States will not implement this process without Mexico keeping in place its independent but parallel effort to accept the return of Venezuelan nationals who bypass this process and attempt to enter illegally."
These are the requirements for legal access to the country:
- Have a supporter in the United States who will provide financial and other support.
- Pass rigorous biometric and biographic national security and public safety screening and vetting.
- Complete vaccinations and other public health requirements.
In addition, Homeland Security indicated that Venezuelans will not have to travel to Mexico to await entry into the United States, and that they will not be received if they do:
- Have been ordered removed from the United States in the previous five years.
- Have crossed without authorization between ports of entry after the date of announcement.
- Have irregularly entered Mexico or Panama after the date of announcement, or are a permanent resident or dual national of any country other than Venezuela, or currently hold refugee status in any country.
- Have not completed vaccinations and other public health requirements.