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Restrictive Parole Program Excludes Many Venezuelans Arriving in Search of Protection

The Biden administration announced a new program that would allow lawful entry only for certain Venezuelans who have an individual in the United States available to sponsor them, and who are able to travel to the United States by air. Concurrently, the administration barred Venezuelans from accessing this program if they travel by land to the U.S. southern border and expanded the Title 42 mass expulsion program to include Venezuelans, after negotiations with the Mexican government.

NIJC’s Executive Director Mary Meg McCarthy responded to the announcements with the following statement:

“We unequivocally condemn the Biden administration’s expansion of the Title 42 mass expulsions program. This harmful program, created by the Trump administration and falsely premised on health concerns, undermines international refugee protection law by blocking asylum access and sending people directly into harmful and dangerous conditions. Last April, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced the administration’s decision to end Title 42 order after assessing current public health conditions. Six months later, this administration has dropped all pretense that Title 42 has a public health rationale and is openly using it to punish people seeking protection at the southern border. This expansion all but confirms that Title 42 expulsions are about politics, not public health.

“While we welcome the use of parole to bring people to safety while they assert their claims for asylum and other relief, we are concerned at the narrow confines of the new parole program, including the requirement of a U.S.-based sponsor and requirement that applicants arrive by air. NIJC staff are regularly receiving newcomers arriving to Chicago from the border by bus, and in our experience very few Venezuelans arriving in search of safety have someone who would be available to sponsor them for this program. This announcement also continues a disturbing trend of pushing back asylum seekers based on their means and mode of entry.

“People fleeing Venezuela have managed to escape crushing poverty and food insecurity and a repressive government. Like all migrants arriving at the border, they are lawfully entitled to seek asylum protections. Their ability to access the U.S. asylum system should not be contingent on their financial means or connections in the United States. We urge the Biden administration to ensure that Venezuelans and other newcomers arriving at the U.S. border have access to the U.S. asylum system and that those already here are provided sustainable protections. Communities throughout the United States are ready to welcome them.”


This statement was updated on October 13, 2022, following the U.S. and Mexico governments' official announcements regarding processing of Venezuelan migrants.