New York Lawyer's Legal Updates

New Immigration Policy Leaves Traveling Venezuelans Stranded And Uncertain


Since the start of the Venezuelan crisis, the United States accepted hundred of thousands of Venezuelan refugees. In fact, according the most recent USCIS Asylum filing and processing data, Venezuelans are leading the numbers of the most recently filed asylum cases with about 25% of all cases filed.

Most newly arrived Venezuelans would come through the Southern border by requesting asylum entry. But recently, the United States government decided to invoke Title 42, Health-related ban, against the new Venezuelan asylum seekers. Instead, those who will be arriving by air only, with the annual cap of 24,000 will be accepted.

According to the Biden administration, the immigration plan would make it simpler for immigrants who were attempting to enter the country legally. Many people who have already started the voyage, however, are shocked and claim that they are currently caught in limbo. The new program will be akin to the Uniting For Ukraine Parole, where a “sponsor” would have to submit an affidavit of support and attestations for a prospective immigrant. However, a humanitarian parole is not asylum, it does not lead to a green card, like a grant of asylum. Also, a person needs a “sponsor”, without one, he or she will not be able to come even close to being able in the program. It is very different from seeking asylum at the border, where one does not depend on a wealthy sponsor in the United States. In addition, those Venezuelans who enter Mexico or Panama illegally, or have permanent t resident status elsewhere, will be ineligible for the parole. Those who are in the United States and are facing removal proceedings, will likewise be ineligible.

It is abundantly clear that the goal of these tactics is to discourage Venezuelans from attempting to enter the US illegally through Mexico. This is because a large number of migrant workers are taking perilous road trips and setting out on dangerously unsecured overland journeys.

Many migrants who have already started their journey, however, claim that the administration’s decision leaves them in a life-or-death situation after they have already given up everything to start their journey north.

There is also a matter of who is most directly affected by this new law. For the rich and well-connected, that was always going to be flying out anyway. They are the ones who will benefit from the new airport entry program, as many of their less fortunate countrymen have pointed out. They face a less perilous ordeal, which is why they do not have any reason to complain.

A Nation In Turmoil

This new initiative does not detract from the fact that Venezuela is in the throes of a very real crisis. So many are trying to migrate, and most of them are even going all the way to the United States. New statistics from the UN published at the beginning of this month show that more than seven million Venezuelans currently reside abroad after leaving their own country due to a national crisis. However, an overwhelming majority of them have elected to reside in other South American nations. This includes over two million that have stayed in neighbouring Colombia.

Conditions of life are worsening for these people due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the humanitarian crisis, a worldwide food shortage and a severe economic recession. An increasing number of Venezuelans have begun to migrate further north towards the American dream through Central America and Mexico. In fact, surveys show nearly 200,000 Venezuelans have crossed the border in the previous year. Many of those who make it now are beginning to find their path blocked just short of the goal, as the number of Venezuelans detained at the southern US border is increasing.

Disqualified Even Before Arrival

For migrants traveling on land through South America, Panama and Mexico stand at both ends of a geographical corridor. Any northbound immigrant who enters Mexico or Panama illegally is immediately placed under the umbrella of the new US migration clause. When they arrive at the United States border, they are already ineligible for legal entry. These are people who are unable to pay for even a single flight, forced to flee on foot across half the continent for months. Many who have discovered their new fate are stranded at different locations along the route, and some are already reconsidering their next steps.

Word is that many travellers are considering simply settling in where they are. The majority of them tell reporters the same thing: the entire path has collapsed, and they are unable to travel.

Diverging Points of View

From the administration, a senior Homeland Security official stated that the objective is to decrease the number of migrants reaching the US southern border illegally. At the same time, they are trying to establish a legal pathway for those who qualify. This was the stance they put forward in a conference call with reporters on Thursday.

Members of Venezuela’s opposition bloc were critical of the plan. This is not their usual response to US policy, which they often support in their fight against the ruling party and its authoritarian leader, Maduro. The strategy is “insufficient given the size” of Venezuela’s migration crisis, according to many Venezuelan officials. The Venezuelan government itself is silent on this issue at present.

Rights campaigners contend that before being deported home, asylum seekers should at least be given the opportunity to fight their claims in the US.

However, some migrants claim that the Biden administration’s changed approach offers them some optimism. Some people who have friends or family in the US may be able to sponsor and shelter them and their families.

If you need help with an asylum case, please call our office to schedule a consultation at 917 885 2261.

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18 October 2022
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