The Biden administration is launching a new large-scale border enforcement operation with Mexico in order to combat the ongoing crisis at the southern border, officials announced Wednesday — an operation that includes increases in checkpoints, resources and a crackdown of human smuggling operations, and will also see Venezuelans returned to Mexico unless they apply through a limited parole program.
The large-scale border enforcement campaign will see the two countries increase checkpoints for migrants, collaborate on targeting human smuggling operations and surge in resources and law enforcement personnel. First reported by Fox News Digital, the campaign will also see increased information-sharing between the two countries on how transnational criminal organizations are using stash houses and staging locations and are transporting migrants through Mexico and into the U.S.
Meanwhile, the Biden administration will immediately begin returning Venezuelan nationals who entered illegally to Mexico, expelling them under the Title 42 public health order that was implemented during the Trump administration due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The U.S. has seen a surge in the number of migrants coming to the U.S. from the authoritarian regime, and until now has been unable to return migrants under the Title 42 public health order due to a lack of diplomatic relations with Venezuela and Mexico’s refusal to take Venezuelan nationals.
There were more than 25,000 encounters of Venezuelan migrants in August, up from just 4,000 in April. In August last year there were just over 6,000 migrant encounters from Venezuela. The surge has contributed to the overwhelming pressure placed on border communities and elsewhere, as Venezuelan illegal immigrants have mainly been released into the U.S. rather than returned to their home country or to Mexico. That’s part of an overwhelming surge in migrants that has seen more than 2.1 million migrant encounters this fiscal year, with over 200,000 migrant encounters in August alone.
Also on Wednesday, the Department of Homeland Security announced a new parole program that would provide a legal pathway for Venezuelan nationals to enter the U.S. Capped at just 24,000, the humanitarian parole program requires Venezuelans to have a supporter in the U.S. to provide financial and other support, pass biometric and other security screenings, and complete public health requirements including vaccinations. It’s similar to a program announced earlier in the year for eligible Ukrainians.
Nationals would be ineligible for the program if they have previously been deported, have crossed into the U.S. or into Mexico illegally after Tuesday or have residence status or refugee status in a country other than Venezuela. DHS said the program will be stopped if Mexico stops accepting Venezuelan returns.
“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,” Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said in a statement. “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.”
The combination of a border security operation, ramped up Title 42 removals and restricting entry to only through a limited parole program marks an aggressive push by the administration to limit numbers coming into the U.S. as it faces continued political pressure on the border crisis from Republicans both at the state and national level. The increased reliance on Title 42 — which the administration has sought to end and which left-wing activists have opposed — may dismay some immigration activists.
Immigration hawks, meanwhile, asked why Mexico could not receive more foreign nationals who enter the U.S. illegally.
“If Venezuelans can be turned back to Mexico — why can’t all migrants, regardless of country of origin?” RJ Hauman, head of government relations and communications at the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) told Fox News Digital.
The Biden administration has been stressing the importance of a hemisphere-wide approach to the migrant crisis, and has been pushing for greater collaboration between nations in dealing with migration – including “root causes” like poverty, violence and corruption.
In June, President Biden attended the Summit of the Americas in June, along with a number of Western Hemisphere leaders, and unveiled a new migration declaration that Biden said would transform the regional approach to migration. The approach included a slew of new migration-related commitments and spending from the U.S. and other countries, including Mexico.