DHS’s new illegal immigration policy grapples with the realities of the border

Homeland Security’s announcement that it will begin deporting some Venezuelan illegal immigrants caught jumping the border turns out to be less than meets the eye, according to Border Patrol agents and analysts who say the policy is fraught with holes.

Mexico has already set a limit on how many Venezuelans it will take back, Border Patrol agents said. The exact number is not yet clear, but Border Patrol agents said it will put a significant dent in the new effort.

Meanwhile, Homeland Security has not said whether families or children traveling alone will be subject to the new policy. If they are cut out, it will further reduce the universe of people who will be blocked at the border.

Stephen Miller, an architect of former President Donald Trump’s immigration policy who is now president of America First Legal, said the Biden administration is fooling people into thinking it has taken a step toward border security. He predicted that many Venezuelans trying to jump the border will enter.

“This is yet another pathetic misrepresentation by the open border zealots running the Biden administration. Between backdoor parole, exempt demographics, arbitrary caps, asylum fraud, and the mass exodus (because they’re not going back to Venezuela) it’s just a thin smokescreen for even more open borders,” Mr. Miller told The Washington Times.

Faced with border chaos, the Biden administration recently announced a new effort to stop at least some of the new arrivals from Venezuela. This country has become a leading source of illegal immigrants, with migrants flooding cities like El Paso, Texas.

SEE ALSO: Border Patrol union chief says Mayorkas could be impeached for ‘whipping’ failure

Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas’ solution is to create a new path for 24,000 Venezuelans to enter legally, albeit in the short term, while announcing that other Venezuelans would be pushed back across the border into Mexico.

To gain Mexico’s cooperation in accepting returnees, the administration announced it would double the number of seasonal non-agricultural visas for foreigners in fiscal year 2023.

Mr. Mayorkas did not explicitly say what authority was used for the withdrawal, but immigrant rights groups said he used Title 42 — a pandemic-era policy pioneered by Mr. Trump.

The activists were not very happy.

“We cannot celebrate the administration’s move to create a path to safety for some Venezuelans if the price to pay is to cut off access for many others and attempt to entrench an illegal policy,” said Lee Gelernt, a lawyer for the American Civil Liberties Union. leading to a legal challenge to section 42.

Benjamin Johnson, executive director of the American Immigration Lawyers Association, said he was “deeply troubled” by the Mexican return policy.

SEE ALSO: Biden overwhelmed DHS desperate for help investigating US sponsors of Ukrainian refugees

He also doubted its effectiveness, predicting that those who are kicked back over the border will not return to Venezuela and will instead try to jump the border again until they manage to sneak in.

Homeland Security did not respond to requests for this report, leaving unanswered questions about its actual plans.

The administration has said it will not subject unaccompanied children to Section 42, so they are unlikely to be blocked by the new policy.

The administration has also been lenient on parents who show up with children, applying Title 42 in about 1 in 5 family cases this year, so it’s also not clear whether many of them would be sent back.

Then there is Mexico’s border of cooperation.

The National Border Patrol Council said agents have been made aware that Mexico has limited the number of Venezuelans it will take back. The actual cap is unknown, but the council said it will be “a small percentage of what actually comes in.”

“Basically a PR stunt,” the council tweeted.

The Mexican Embassy did not respond to a request for comment.

The plan that Mr. Mayorkas announced to allow 24,000 Venezuelans to enter legally, building on similar programs he used to take in 77,000 Afghan evacuees last year and is using to bring in 100,000 Ukrainians this year.

They all entered under his “parole,” which allows him to grant a special national interest exemption to the law that would normally prevent people from entering. Probation allows a two-year legal presence along with the ability to apply for a work permit, which means the ability to hold a job legally and opens the door to certain taxpayer benefits.

It is not intended to be a path to permanent status or citizenship, although the Biden administration has asked Congress to create a path for the Afghans.

Each of the 24,000 Venezuelans must be sponsored by a US citizen or current legal resident who must promise to provide financial support and guidance to the new arrival. It was also a condition for the 100,000 Ukrainians, but not for the Afghans.

“These actions make it clear that there is a legal and orderly way for Venezuelans to enter the United States, and legal entry is the only way,” said Mr. Mayorkas in the announcement of the program.

He added: “Those who attempt to cross the US southern border illegally will be returned to Mexico and will not be eligible for this process in the future.”

Immigrant rights activists said requiring sponsors would exclude some of the neediest refugees fleeing Venezuela, who are unlikely to have ties to the United States

The figure of 24,000 is also a fraction of the total flow. Border Patrol agents caught more than 150,000 Venezuelan illegal immigrants from October 1, 2021 to August 31, 2022.

Embracing deportations marks a significant symbolic turn for the Biden administration, which is still fighting in the courts to end the Title 42 tool it now utilizes.

A court has issued an injunction blocking the administration from ending Section 42.

Homeland Security said in announcing the Venezuelan program that it is working to curb illegal crossings, and the department will look to expand its use to other nationalities.

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