Experts say a new humanitarian parole program for Venezuelans marks a new incentive-cum-enforcement trend for immigration policy — if it actually works.
The flood of Latin American migrants at the U.S. southern border, including groups like Venezuelans who end up coming to South Florida, is one of President Biden’s biggest crises. But the administration is trying a new carrot-and-stick approach that could relieve that pressure — and might show both parties in Congress a way forward to immigration reform.
That is, if it works.
So far, cases like Johander Sánchez’s indicate it could. Sánchez is 20, a talented baseball shortstop and switch-hitter back in his home state of Guárico in Venezuela. But between Venezuela’s brutal economic crisis and political repression, he sees little if any future there beyond being a poorly paid semi-pro ball player.
So, like so many Venezuelans now, he recently came to the U.S. and is now living with relatives in Fontainebleu in west Miami-Dade County. However, unlike the tens of thousands of Venezuelan migrants who’ve been crossing at the U.S.-Mexico border in recent years, Sánchez took a new and different path.
“Going through Central America, the Darien jungle, the Mexican desert — it’s too dangerous,” Sánchez said. “I held out hope I could come here in a legal way.”
That suddenly appeared last month. The Biden Administration created a humanitarian parole program for Venezuelan migrants who have a sponsor in the U.S. to financially support them. They can stay here for two years, get a work permit and apply for asylum.
“As soon as I heard, I applied and took a bus from Guárico to Colombia so I could fly here,” Sánchez said.