Venezuelans at the border

Tens of thousands of Venezuelan refugees are stranded in Mexico and along paths they have taken to reach the Mexican border with the United States. This is a crisis within a broader crisis of ayslum surges,  in part due to a welcoming attitude of the Biden administration, but mainly due to the failure of recent administrations to upgrade asylum management with faster, more assured determination processes. Worth noting that Texas as sued the federal goverment to put a stop to its current reform efforts

Our refugee policy response to Afghanisan and Ukraine has been relatively inclusive. Our policy toward Vanazuealn refugees is a harsh and possibly illegal shutdown (discussed at length here).

Venezuelan refugees comprise a more world-scale serious refugee challenge than Syria or Ukraine, with as of now 25% of the country having left. This has reshaped the situation at our Mexican border: while total encounters have surged, Venezuelans have contributed mightily to the surge, and on October 12 DHS shut the door to all but a few.


For instance, from FY 2019 through FY 2022 (ending Sept 30), the total number of encounters of all nationalities at the Mexican border increased from one million to 2.4 million, or 240%. The number of those who were not from Mexico and Central America increased from 117,000 to one million, or about ten times, while the number from El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala declined. Here.

In FY 2022 alone, U.S. border officials recorded 187,716 encounters with Venezuelans.

The Department of Homeland Security stated on October 12 that “unique encounters of Venezuelan nationals rose 293 percent between FY 2021 and FY 2022, while unique encounters of all other nationalities combined increased 45 percent. Panama is currently seeing more than 3,000 people, mostly Venezuelan nationals, crossing into its territory from Colombia via the Darién jungle each day.”

Total immigration court backlog for Venezuela were 6,492 in 2018 and 147,812 in 2022

DHS’s October 12 action

The agency announced that “Effective immediately, Venezuelans who enter the United States between ports of entry, without authorization, will be returned to Mexico.” It is citing as authorization Title 42, which is (before March 2020) an obscure provision which enables the U.S. to expel entrants on the grounds of preventing infection.  24,000 parole slots will be opened up. For a time line of DHS’s use of Title 42, go here.

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