The Border Patrol has seen a dramatic increase in illegal crossings by Venezuelan migrants in the last two years; it has surged recently to around 25,000 in August and 33,000 in September.
On Oct. 12, DHS announced a program to discourage Venezuelans from entering the United States illegally. The program will provide a safe and lawful way for 24,000 qualifying Venezuelans to enter the United States at an airport, reside temporarily, and apply for work authorization. To be eligible, they must:

• Have a supporter in the United States who will provide financial and other assistance;
• Pass national security and public safety screening and vetting; and
• Satisfy vaccination and other public health requirements.

Also, effective immediately, Venezuelans who make illegal crossings between ports of entry will be returned to Mexico.
The administration needs permission from the Mexican government to return illegal crossers to Mexico.

In return for Mexico’s cooperation, the administration has agreed to increase the number of temporary nonagricultural worker H-2B visas from 66,000 to 130,716 for fiscal 2023. These visas provide workers for American businesses in industries such as hospitality and tourism, landscaping, and seafood processing.

Historically, around 90 percent of the H-2B visas have been given to Mexican nationals.

The United States also will give $376 million in additional humanitarian assistance to people affected by the Venezuela regional crisis, and give more than $199 million in additional humanitarian assistance to Mexico and Central America.

This program is “intended to address the most acute irregular migration and help ease pressure on the cities and states receiving these individuals.” According to DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, “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.”

Limited in scope and temporary at best

Carlos Vecchio, an international spokesman for reinstating democracy in Venezuela, has said that an offer of 24,000 visas is insufficient for the magnitude of Venezuela’s migration crisis. According to UNHCR statistics, more than 6 million Venezuelans have fled from Venezuela, which makes their situation the second-largest external displacement crisis in the world.
Also note that the administration is only saying it will try to stop illegal crossings made by Venezuelans and that the program’s only enforcement measure for achieving that objective is returning Venezuelans who make an illegal crossing to Mexico.


Published originally on The Hill.

Nolan Rappaport was detailed to the House Judiciary Committee as an Executive Branch Immigration Law Expert for three years. He subsequently served as an immigration counsel for the Subcommittee on Immigration, Border Security and Claims for four years. Prior to working on the Judiciary Committee, he wrote decisions for the Board of Immigration Appeals for 20 years. Follow him at