Venezuelan Migrants Stranded as U.S. Tightens Immigration Rules

Biden administration’s new policy has reduced illegal crossings by Venezuelans, but it has angered immigration and human-rights advocates

Venezuelans arriving at San Pedro Tapanatepec in southern Mexico, which is used by Mexican officials to hold migrants entering from Guatemala. [Jorge Luis Plata | Reuters]

Tens of thousands of Venezuelans are stranded in Mexico and Central America after U.S. officials applied a Trump-era policy to deter a deluge in illegal border crossings by Venezuelan migrants that for months had vexed the Biden administration.

The United Nations estimates that the U.S. has since Oct. 12 expelled more than 5,300 Venezuelans who had arrived at the border back to Mexico under Title 42, first implemented under President Donald Trump to permit the expulsion of migrants on grounds they might be positive for Covid-19. Prior to that, Venezuelans had been leaving Venezuela or third countries in record numbers to reach the U.S.

The Venezuelans, many with children, are now sleeping on the streets, in makeshift camps and at overcrowded shelters on the Mexican side of the border, challenging the country’s federal government and local authorities, Mexican officials said. The migrants were expecting to cross and plead asylum, then remain in the U.S., like tens of thousands of other Venezuelans who migrated earlier this year.

Border cities like Brownsville, Texas, are seeing their resources stretched as they work to manage the growing number of migrant families crossing the U.S.-Mexico border. WSJ’s Michelle Hackman reports. [Verónica G. Cárdenas]

Now, many of the Venezuelans say they are despondent, hungry and out of money after traversing several countries and dodging violence and thieves only to get shut out of the U.S.

“We had tremendous confidence, we sold everything to get here and suddenly the door slammed in our faces,” said Félix Rodríguez, a Venezuelan horse trainer who headed north in late September from Argentina, where he had first fled. He spoke from a rundown motel in Piedras Negras, a dusty border community across from Eagle Pass, Texas.