United States immigration officials are set to begin accepting applications for a new parole programme for Venezuelan asylum seekers, in a plan that will see most Venezuelans trying to enter the US through its southern border expelled back to Mexico.
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) on Tuesday published a Federal Register notice (PDF) announcing the official start of the programme, which was announced last week, that will allow 24,000 Venezuelans to come into the US by air.
The plan, which is aimed at addressing the growing number of Venezuelans who have been arriving at the US-Mexico border seeking asylum, also includes the expansion of a border expulsion policy known as Title 42.
Up until now, the pandemic-era rule – which allows US authorities to quickly send most migrants back to Mexico without a chance to file a petition – had largely been applied to asylum seekers from Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala.
Due to strained relations with the Venezuelan government, the US had been unable to expel the country’s citizens. It has instead been allowing them to file for asylum and enter the US to pursue their cases.
But now, under the new agreement, Mexico has agreed to take in Venezuelans. Hundreds have already been expelled to Mexico, according to local media reports.
The development comes as the administration of US President Joe Biden has struggled to address the record-high numbers of migrants and asylum seekers arriving at its southern border with Mexico.
With three weeks until critical midterm elections that will determine control of the US Congress, Biden’s Republican rivals have seized on the issue and accused his administration of mishandling the situation at the border.
US and international rights groups have slammed the new border policy for Venezuelans.
“While we welcome steps to provide safe processing for some Venezuelans, the creation of safe pathways should never be wielded to deny other people seeking protection access to asylum,” dozens of human rights organisations wrote in a joint letter last week addressed to DHS secretary Alejandro Mayorkas.
Source : Aljazeera