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Reports: Biden administration working on humanitarian parole program for Venezuelan migrants

In an attempt to deter Venezuelans from illegally crossing the southern border, the Biden administration is looking into creating a humanitarian parole program similar to one now in place for Ukrainians, two officials familiar with the matter told The New York Times on Tuesday.

Over the last decade, an estimated 6.8 million Venezuelans have fled the country due to economic and political instability, poverty, and a lack of essentials like food and medicine. While many are settling in South American countries, other Venezuelans are making the long and dangerous trek to the U.S.; from October 2021 through August, more than 150,000 Venezuelans have been apprehended at the southern border.

After Russia invaded Ukraine in late February, the Biden administration launched Uniting for Ukraine, a program that allows a sponsor in the U.S. to vouch for a Ukrainian refugee and agree to provide them with financial support while they are in the country. Participating Ukrainians are allowed to stay in the U.S. temporarily, for up to two years.

Under the proposed plan for Venezuelans, which is not yet finalized, migrants who have a sponsor inside the U.S. and arrive at an official port of entry will not be turned away, the Times reports, while those who cross the southern border illegally will be expelled to Mexico as part of the Title 42 public health authority. As it is now, because Washington does not have formal diplomatic relations with Caracas, most Venezuelan migrants are receiving permission to stay in the U.S. on a temporary basis before going through deportation proceedings, which can take years. These migrants are monitored via GPS ankle monitors, telephones, and apps.

Immigration advocates have been asking the Biden administration to come up with a streamlined process that makes it easier for vulnerable Venezuelans to enter the U.S. "We do find that a lack of coordination leads to more migrants being exploited," a senior administration official told CNN. "There's consensus that there's value in us working more closely and trying to synchronize our policies."