Muzaffar Chishti, director of the office of the Migration Policy Institute at New York University, believes that the measures announced for Venezuelans who want to reach the US are the result of the president adapting to the circumstances.

President Joe Biden was between a rock and a hard place.

This is how Muzaffar Chishti, director of the office of the Migration Policy Institute of the University of New York, explains the new plan of the United States to deal with the growing Venezuelan immigration.

In September alone, 33,000 Venezuelans arrived at the border it shares with Mexico. The fiscal year of 2022 saw an increase in the arrival of Venezuelans of 293% compared to the previous fiscal year.

With the intention of reducing these figures, Washington announced that Venezuelans who cross the border on foot or by swimming will be immediately returned to Mexico, a measure that began to be applied this Wednesday.

It will be possible thanks to an agreement reached with the Mexican government of Andrés Manuel López Obrador and the extension of a controversial policy from the era of President Donald Trump that Biden had promised to disrupt: Title 42.

The US will also open the doors to 24,000 Venezuelans who want to emigrate legally, with a program similar to the one that already exists for Ukrainians fleeing the Russian invasion.

We talked about all this with Chishti, who stresses that the tools to deal with migration are limited and that the new plan for Venezuelans is the result of Biden adapting to the circumstances.

Why has this decision been made now?

The decision has been made because the nature of the challenge at the border has changed radically. Not only in the last year, but it has really changed radically in the last few weeks.

Migrants being bussed from Texas to Washington DC and New York City and flown to Martha’s Vineyard by the governor of Florida have just crystallized the problem.

The issue of buses and flights has been so dramatic that it has captured public attention. They were effectively meant to create an element of surprise.

But while this may have been politically motivated, it was a clear political strategy in an election year, it also revealed a significant emerging crisis.

And it is that an unprecedented number of migrants in general and Venezuelans in particular are arriving at the southwest border.

The numbers of the phenomenon are different compared to previous years and the diversity of the flow as well. And what the Biden administration concluded is that there is no one policy, solution or action that works for all populations, and that different policies are needed for each group.

This is what he has done in the case of the Venezuelans. He made Venezuela an example of it.

The Biden administration tried this year to lift Title 42, but in May a federal court prevented it from doing so. Now it extends its use. Are you using something you have criticized so much to your advantage?

The Biden administration is clearly slipping into ambivalence on this.

If the Biden administration had had its way, it would have done away with Title 42. It was a campaign promise from the president. That has always been his position and the one he demonstrated during the court process.

But having said that, he has also understood that the nature of (migratory) flows has changed radically and he has had to adapt his policy to it.

And what he has done is close an agreement with Mexico so that people who cannot have a sponsor in the United States, and are not candidates according to them to be quickly relocated in the country, be subject to Title 42.

It is also the recognition that it does not have enough resources to process, not only Venezuelans, but all other migrants, through the old Title 8.

Biden was caught between a rock and a hard place.

On one hand you don’t have the resources, but on the other hand you want to end Title 42 and the activists are asking you to end it.

So, while Title 42 is still hanging by a thread in the courts, he is using it at least for the people that Mexico is going to receive.

The announcement of the new immigration policy towards Venezuelans comes less than a month before the mid-term elections (November 8). For this reason, there are those who are saying that this is a calculated decision by Biden and with an eye on those elections. Do you see it that way?

Politics always has an undeniable role in the migration issue.

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