DHS announces new program for Venezuelan migrants aimed at easing pressure at U.S.-Mexico border

The announcement comes just weeks before the midterms as Republicans push immigration as a key issue leading up to Election Day. The Biden administration has faced growing pressure in recent months to respond to the surge of migrants at the border, particularly as Republican Govs. Greg Abbott of Texas and Ron DeSantis of Florida have sent thousands of migrants to cities with Democratic mayors, like New York, Chicago and Washington.

Nearly four times the number of Venezuelans tried to cross the southern border this year compared with last year, DHS said in explaining Wednesday’s announcement. In August, 55,333 migrants encountered at the border were from Venezuela, Cuba or Nicaragua, a 175 percent increase from the year before.

The stated goal of the program, which will allow up to 24,000 Venezuelans to come into the U.S. through these authorized ports of entry, is to create a more “orderly and safe” process. Qualifying migrants must have a preexisting tie in the United States, and someone who can provide financial and other support. The person must also pass national security and public-safety vetting, and complete vaccinations and public health requirements.

The program is similar to the one imposed by the administration earlier this year when Ukrainians were fleeing in large numbers amid Russia’s invasion. Ukrainians were allowed to enter the United States and work in the country temporarily, an orderly process set up to avoid Ukrainians flooding the U.S.-Mexico border.

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