(NewsNation) — New details have emerged about a new immigration plan to offer thousands of Venezuelan migrants a legal path into the U.S., similar to the approach the U.S. has been taking with Ukrainians who are seeking refuge from the war in Ukraine.
The Biden administration announced on Wednesday that it would allow 24,000 Venezuelan migrants a legal path into the U.S., but only for those entering the country legally through ports of entry.
Under this new agreement with Mexico, DHS said that Venezuelans who enter the U.S. illegally in between ports of entry will be returned to Mexico.
Effective immediately, Venezuelans who walk or swim across the border will be immediately returned to Mexico under a pandemic rule known as Title 42 authority, which suspends rights to seek asylum under U.S. and international law on grounds of preventing the spread of COVID-19.
Any Venezuelan who illegally enters Mexico or Panama will also be ineligible to come to the U.S. under the offer.
“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,” said Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas. “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.”
Up until this announcement, almost all Venezuelan nationals were processed and released into the U.S. and they were allowed to seek asylum. Venezuelan nationals made up the majority of migrants crossing into many parts of Texas in recent months.
The agency said that almost four times as many Venezuelans as last year attempted to cross the southern border.
DHS appears to be attempting to slow that flow using this threat of immediate removal here, but Border Patrol agents told NewsNation that the U.S. is likely going to see more Venezuelan migrants trying to enter now because they will no longer be able to self-surrender and stay.
DHS also announced a new lawful pathway created for up to 24,000 qualifying Venezuelans looking to come into the U.S. Those people will have to pass rigorous biometrics testing, and they will have to be vaccinated and will have to cross legally.
DHS said that many migrants do put their lives in the hands of criminal organizations, including human smuggling organizations. But DHS and Border Patrol are trying to mitigate that as well by cracking down on it in a joint action with Mexico.
They’re going to be implementing more migration checkpoints, and they’re also going to be adding additional resources and personnel at the southern border.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.