HIAS Says Biden Plan Combining Parole and Expulsions for Venezuelans is “Riddled with Flaws”

SILVER SPRING, Md – HIAS objects to much of the Biden administration’s new program offering humanitarian parole to a limited number of Venezuelan refugees, criticizing its reliance on sponsors and its plan to expel a much larger number of Venezuelans who have crossed the border between points of entry under Title 42. A World War II-era emergency public health law invoked in March of 2020, Title 42 allows Customs and Border Protection to block people from seeking asylum in the U.S. and has led to 2 million expulsions under both this and the previous administration.

“We recognize the complex challenges at our southern border and the enormous dangers of making the journey north from Venezuela by land, and we support any steps toward an orderly process allowing Venezuelans to enter the U.S. But this program, as currently designed, is riddled with flaws,” said HIAS Vice President of U.S. Policy and Advocacy Naomi Steinberg.

The Department of Homeland Security plan announced Wednesday would offer parole to up to 24,000 Venezuelans and is modeled on the administration’s Uniting for Ukraine program. Venezuelans who irregularly enter Mexico or Panama following the date of enactment of this new policy will be ineligible for parole, as will those who are already in the United States. DHS statistics show that there has been a sharp increase in the number of asylum seekers from Venezuela arriving at the U.S.-Mexico border since last summer, with as many as 160,000 reportedly taken into U.S. custody during that time period.

Steinberg continued, “We are troubled that this plan offers no legal rationale for giving preferential treatment to a very small number of Venezuelans, while expanding Title 42 expulsions for a much larger number of others. The administration is essentially making access to protection contingent upon whether an asylum seeker is fortunate enough to have ties to sponsors, and excluding the most at-risk asylum seekers who won’t have the ability or means to apply for this program. Nowhere in U.S. immigration law does it state that access to protection is limited to those with connections to people who can help support them financially.”

“Moreover, as we have seen with the Uniting for Ukraine and Operation Allies Welcome programs, the administration’s reliance on humanitarian parole without long-term improvements to the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP) and the backlogged asylum system, amounts to a band-aid approach that has left and will continue to leave too many people in legal limbo without a pathway to permanent legal status,” Steinberg said.

“Finally, we find it disturbing that the Biden administration is no longer citing any public health rationale for Title 42 and is effectively establishing these expulsions as a feature of U.S. immigration policy, instead of taking the necessary steps to fix the asylum system more comprehensively. We renew our call on the president to make good on his previous commitment to end Title 42.”


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