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U.S. weighs allowing Venezuelans to apply for special humanitarian entry -sources

WASHINGTON, Oct 11 (Reuters) – The Biden administration is considering allowing some Venezuelans seeking humanitarian entry into the United States to apply from Venezuela or a third country to reduce illegal border crossings, two U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) officials said on Tuesday.

The program, if implemented, would resemble a similar effort announced in April to bring Ukrainians fleeing the Russian invasion of Ukraine into the United States. Venezuelans caught crossing the U.S.-Mexico border illegally in the past five years would not be eligible, the officials said, requesting anonymity to discuss internal matters.

The White House and DHS declined to comment.

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Republicans have spotlighted illegal immigration ahead of Nov. 8 midterm elections, arguing that U.S. President Joe Biden, a Democrat, is not doing enough to secure the border. There have been a record number of migrant arrests at the U.S.-Mexico border since Biden took office in 2021.

The number of Venezuelans caught crossing the border illegally has spiked in the past year amid political turmoil and economic instability under President Nicolas Maduro.

More than 150,000 Venezuelans were picked up at the U.S.-Mexico border between October 2021 and August 2022, according to U.S. government data.

Many border crossers are expelled immediately to Mexico or their home countries under a pandemic-related order known as Title 42. But Venezuelans generally cannot be expelled, as Mexico will not accept them, and they are difficult to deport due to frosty diplomatic relations with their government.

As a result, most migrants from Venezuela who cross into the United States are allowed to stay and pursue asylum claims, which can take years to resolve.

Last month, Reuters reported that the Biden administration has quietly pressed Mexico to accept more migrants from Venezuela, as well as from Cuba and Nicaragua, under the COVID-19 expulsion order that the White House has publicly sought to end. read more

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Reporting by Ted Hesson in Washington; Additional reporting by Matt Spetalnick; Editing by Kristina Cooke and Gerry Doyle

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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