(CNN) — The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) confirmed a CNN report on Wednesday that it will launch a new program targeting Venezuelan immigrants seeking to enter the United States and return to Mexico those who cross the border illegally.
CNN was first to report that the proposal is being considered on Tuesday.
The program for Venezuela is similar to the approach the administration took towards Ukrainians earlier this year. They will need to apply, have a sponsor in the US, and be screened and verified, as well as have a complete vaccination schedule. DHS said up to 24,000 Venezuelans would be accepted.
The program comes amid an influx of migrants of those nationalities at the US-Mexico border, putting pressure on border cities and federal resources. According to the Department of Homeland Security, in August, 55,333 migrants found at the border were from Venezuela, Cuba or Nicaragua, a 175% increase from the previous August.
“These actions make it clear that there is a legal and orderly way for Venezuelans to enter the United States, and that legal entry is the only way,” Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Meyercas said in a statement.
Planning is intended to function as an expanded and more systematic process. If immigrants meet the criteria, they will be granted parole in the US with the ability to work legally as well.
Venezuelans who are not eligible include those who have been ordered to leave the US in the past five years, cross the border illegally after Wednesday’s announcement, or irregularly enter Panama or Mexico after the declaration date. logging in. Thousands of Venezuelan migrants are passing through Panama on their way to the United States.
Venezuelan migrants will also now be sent back to Mexico under Trump-era pandemic emergency restrictions if they cross the US-Mexico border, marking a significant departure from the first.
Administration officials have been dealing with mass migration in the Western Hemisphere for months, stressing the need for all countries to ease flows and help better conditions at home. The issue again became the subject of discussion at a meeting of foreign ministers in Lima, Peru last week.
The shift in demographics – with many immigrants now from Venezuela, Cuba and Nicaragua – has made it extraordinarily difficult for the US, cold ties with countries that largely prevent administrations from deporting people from those countries.
The proposal being considered is an acknowledgment of the fact that Venezuelans are largely released into the US as they go through immigration procedures and, in some cases, have family or friends from whom they travel to the country. were meeting in.
The Biden administration has taken a similar approach as Ukrainians fleeing their war-torn country, allowing them to enter the United States and work for a temporary period. The program was established to prevent Ukrainians from reaching the US-Mexico border and to ensure an orderly process.
Poor economic conditions, a lack of food and limited access to health care are forcing Venezuelans to leave, posing an immediate and serious challenge to the administration as thousands of people reach the southern border of the United States. joined.
According to the United Nations, more than 6 million Venezuelans have fled their country amid worsening conditions, surpassing Ukraine in number of displaced people and leaving Syria behind. According to a Homeland Security official, more than 1,000 Venezuelans are captured daily at the US-Mexico border.
Venezuelans detained at the US-Mexico border are typically paroled in the US and released under an Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) program, which monitors people via GPS via ankle monitors. , via phone or an app, while they go through their immigration procedures. But the latest proposal is expected to adopt a more organized approach.
A senior administration official previously told CNN that a surge in Venezuela’s movement across the hemisphere emerged during a White House meeting last month with 19 countries in the Western Hemisphere.
“We found that more migrants are being exploited due to lack of coordination,” the senior administration official said. “There is general consensus that we are trying to work more closely and coordinate our policies.”