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HomeTopicsLatin AmericaUnited States agrees with Mexico to accept 24,000 Venezuelan migrants

United States agrees with Mexico to accept 24,000 Venezuelan migrants

The United States agreed Wednesday with Mexico to accept the entry of up to 24,000 Venezuelan migrants by plane, through a legal pathway similar to that applied to Ukrainians, and to expel those who enter illegally through its southern border.

The plan “to reduce irregular migration of Venezuelans” includes “a new process to legally and safely bring in up to 24,000” of them, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) said in a statement.

But those who “attempt to enter the United States illegally will be returned,” it noted.

“There is a legal and orderly way for Venezuelans to enter the United States and legal entry is the only way,” said Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, quoted in the release.

To enter legally, the applicant – who must pass biometric security checks and be vaccinated – needs to file a petition supported by a U.S.-based person or organization.

Those who were removed from the U.S. in the last five years or as of Wednesday, or who entered Mexico or Panama irregularly after the program was announced, will not be able to apply. 

Accepted Venezuelans “will be authorized on a case-by-case basis to travel to the United States by air directly, (…) thereby relieving pressure at the border” and will be able to apply for employment, the DHS reported.

Flood of Migrants

Over the past few years, the number of people fleeing Venezuela, ruled by Nicolás Maduro, has skyrocketed throughout the Americas. There are currently estimated to be more than 5.9 million residing in Latin America, of which 2.4 million in Colombia, according to UN data.

The United States has also received a flood of Venezuelans in recent months.

Between October 2021 and August 2022, more than 150,000 Venezuelan migrants were apprehended at the southern border of the United States, of which more than 95,000 so far this year, according to Customs and Border Protection (CBP) data. 

Meanwhile, irregular migration from northern Central America is down by a quarter from last year’s level, DHS said.

U.S. President Joe Biden is in favor of “orderly” migration under the principle of shared responsibility, because he does not want his country to bear the full burden of the migratory flow.

65,000 Visas

The new program is aimed at “improving border security” and derives from the successful United for Ukraine program that facilitated the entry of Ukrainians fleeing the war in their country, said the DHS, which does not rule out expanding it in the future.

In parallel, the Mexican Foreign Ministry said in a statement that the new approach has been coordinated between the two countries.

At Mexico’s request, the United States has agreed to “increase labor mobility in the region with 65,000 new work visas” for temporary non-agricultural workers, of which 20,000 are for people from Central America and Haiti, along with “access for 24,000 people with pathways to join the U.S. labor market,” it said.

Mexico, which has long been asking Washington for an increase in the number of work visas for migrants, described the program as a “temporary migration flow management scheme” that will be analyzed by both countries to evaluate “its results and continuity”.

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