Biden turns to Trump-era regime to deport Venezuelan migrants


WASHINGTON (AP) — Two years ago, candidate Joe Biden sharply denounced President Donald Trump for his immigration policies that inflicted “cruelty and exclusion at every turn,” including on those fleeing “brutal” government. of socialist Nicolas Maduro in Venezuela.

Now, with growing numbers of Venezuelans arriving at the US-Mexico border ahead of the Nov. 8 election, Biden has turned to an unlikely source for a solution: his predecessor’s playbook.

Biden last week invoked a Trump-era rule known as Title 42 — which Biden’s own Justice Department is fighting in court — to deny Venezuelans fleeing their crisis-torn country the ability to apply. asylum at the border.

The rule, first invoked by Trump in 2020, uses emergency public health authority to allow the United States to prevent migrants from seeking asylum at the border, based on the need to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Under the Biden administration’s new policy, Venezuelans who walk or swim across America’s southern border will be deported and any Venezuelans who illegally enter Mexico or Panama will not be allowed to come to the states. -United. But up to 24,000 Venezuelans will be accepted at US airports, in the same way Ukrainians have been admitted since Russia invaded in February.

Mexico insisted that the United States admit one Venezuelan on humanitarian parole for every Venezuelan deported to Mexico, according to a Mexican official who was not authorized to discuss the issue publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity. So if the Biden administration releases 24,000 Venezuelans to the United States, Mexico would not accept more than 24,000 Venezuelans deported from the United States.

Biden’s policy marks a sharp turn for the White House, which just weeks ago lambasted Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, both Republicans, for putting « fleeing » Venezuelan migrants political persecution” on buses and planes to Democratic strongholds.

« They were children, they were moms, they were fleeing communism, » White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said at the time.

Biden’s new policy drew heavy criticism from immigrant advocates, many of whom were quick to point out parallels to Trump.

“Rather than restoring the right of asylum decimated by the Trump administration … the Biden administration has dangerously embraced the failures of the past and extended them by explicitly allowing deportations of Venezuelan migrants,” said policy director Jennifer Nagda. from the Young Center for Immigrants. Children’s rights.

Administration says policy aims to ensure Venezuelans have a ‘lawful and orderly’ way to enter the United States

Why the reversal?

For more than a year after taking office in January 2021, Biden reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which used their authority to keep the Trump-era statement that there was a risk in place. for public health which justified the accelerated deportation of asylum seekers. .

Members of Biden’s own party and activist groups had expressed skepticism about the public health underpinnings for allowing Title 42 to remain in effect, particularly when COVID-19 was spreading more widely in the United States than somewhere else.

After months of internal deliberations and preparations, on April 1, the CDC said it would end the public health order and return to normal border processing of migrants, giving them a chance to seek asylum in states. -United.

Homeland Security officials braced for a resulting increase in border crossings.

But officials inside and outside the White House were in conflict over ending the authority, believing it was effectively reducing the number of people crossing the border illegally, according to senior administration officials. .

A court order in May that kept Title 42 in place due to a challenge from Republican state officials was met with quiet relief by some in the administration, according to officials who spoke to the ‘Associated Press on condition of anonymity to discuss internal discussions.

The recent increase in migration from Venezuela, triggered by the country’s political, social and economic instability, has dashed officials’ hopes of finally seeing a lull in the chaos that had defined the border region during the past year.

In August, Venezuelans were the second most important nationality to arrive at the US border after Mexicans. Since US tensions with Venezuela meant that migrants from the country could not be easily returned, the situation became increasingly difficult to manage.

So an administration that had rejected many Trump-era policies aimed at keeping migrants out, worked to ease the asylum process, and increased the number of refugees allowed to enter the United States s is now turned to title 42.

He brokered a deal to send the Venezuelans to Mexico, which had already agreed to accept migrants deported under Title 42 if they came from Guatemala, Honduras or El Salvador.

Meanwhile, Justice Department attorneys continue to appeal a court ruling that kept Title 42 in place. They oppose Republican attorneys general from more than 20 states who have argued that Title 42 is « the only safety valve preventing this administration’s already disastrous border control policies from descending into total disaster. »

Under Title 42, migrants have been deported more than 2.3 million times from the United States after illegally crossing the country’s land borders from Canada or Mexico, although most try to cross through Mexico.

The administration had announced it would stop deporting migrants under Title 42 starting May 23 and resume detaining and deporting migrants who were not qualified to enter and remain in the United States — a process longer that allows migrants to seek asylum in the United States.

« We are extremely disturbed by the apparent acceptance, codification and expansion of the use of Title 42, an irrelevant health order, as a cornerstone of border policy, » said Thomas Cartwright of Witness at the Border. « He who erases the legal right to asylum. »

A separate lawsuit from the American Civil Liberties Union is also trying to end Title 42, an effort that could render the administration’s proposal useless.

« People have the right to seek asylum – no matter where they are from, how they arrived in the United States, and whether or not they have family here, » the ACLU attorney said, Lee Gelent.


Long reported from Los Angeles. Associated Press writer Elliot Spagat in San Diego contributed to this report.


Follow AP’s immigration coverage at

Colleen Long and Zeke Miller, Associated Press


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