Venezuelans Now Rank Second in Illegal Immigration to the U.S.
FAIR Take | January 2024
Since President Biden took office, over half a million Venezuelans have been encountered at our borders, making Venezuelans the second most commonly-encountered nationality at our borders after Mexicans. These are findings of FAIR’s new research report, Country Brief: Venezuela. The report offers an in-depth review of how migration from Venezuela has skyrocketed, how open-borders policies have driven the flow, and how national security is threatened by the wave of unknown and un-vetted Venezuelans pouring into the U.S.
Three key points from FAIR’s research stand out.
1) Venezuelans: Second Only to Mexicans
Illegal immigration from Venezuela was historically relatively low, but this changed rapidly since 2021. In Fiscal Year (FY) 2020, just 4,520 Venezuelans were encountered by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) at America’s borders. In FY 2021, this number grew to 50,499, an eleven-fold increase. In FY 2022, this figure reached 189,520, and in FY 2023, CBP encountered 334,914 Venezuelan nationals—marking a 77 percent increase in encounters in one year. In total, since President Biden was inaugurated, over half a million Venezuelan aliens have entered the United States, making Venezuelans the second most commonly encountered nationality at the border, second only to Mexicans.
2) Policy Drivers: Parole, Temporary Protected Status, and Mass Release
The major driver of Venezuelan migration to the U.S. has been policies that allow illegal aliens to enter, be released, and work in the United States. Many Venezuelan nationals are taking advantage of the Biden Administration’s illegal categorical parole program, announced in late 2022. Under this program, Venezuelans and dual citizens of Venezuela can fly directly into the U.S. without a visa. Furthermore, the Biden Administration has designated and re-designated Venezuela for Temporary Protected Status (TPS), which blocks the government from deporting Venezuelan nationals and offers them work permits. This has incentivized more Venezuelans to come to the U.S. because they anticipate similar treatment. Unfortunately, the history of other TPS-designated countries such as El Salvador and Honduras proves that this “temporary” status can last for decades. Finally, the Biden Administration has deliberately chosen to release Venezuelans and other illegal aliens encountered at the border, even though detention is legally required in many cases.
3) Venezuela and Iran: Terror Alliance
Mass illegal immigration from Venezuela also threatens U.S. national security, especially due to Venezuela’s corrupt government, which is issuing travel documents to individuals linked to terrorism. Venezuela allows terrorists to operate with relative impunity and has increased its ties with Iran, a notorious state sponsor of terrorism. Iran has declared it will see America “held responsible” for the situation in the Middle East. Iran proven it can use proxy agents to cause havoc overseas, and the violence in Israel, and now Yemen, where Houthi rebels have attacked U.S. ships.
Illegal immigration from Venezuela has skyrocketed due to the Biden Administration’s open-borders policies. Venezuelans are now the second-highest encountered nationality at our borders. Venezuela’s dangerous links to terrorist sponsors and its practice of issuing passports to operatives of these states are a source of grave concern, especially as unrest in the Middle East increases. In its country brief, FAIR urges policymakers to end catch-and-release policies, stop the Secretary’s abuse of parole authority, rescind Temporary Protected Status, and stop economic migrants from abusing our asylum system.