We welcome the news that the Biden Administration has decided to provide a new humanitarian parole program for some Venezuelans, similar to the one offered to Ukrainians, as a way to more quickly process vulnerable asylum-seekers. However, it is unacceptable that the U.S. will at the same time expel Venezuelans who do not have a private sponsor, as well as other asylum-seekers fleeing from countries like Haiti and Honduras. These crises, which the IRC has highlighted in our annual Watchlist report, illustrate the scale and nature of humanitarian distress that constitutes a global system failure.

Venezuela is one of the largest displacement crises in the world, with an estimated 7 million people in need of humanitarian aid, and 6 million people displaced abroad, the third largest globally after Syria and Ukraine: 9.3 million people in Venezuela face food insecurity, with 57 percent of pregnant women facing malnutrition and 1 in 3 hospitals with no access to drinking water. The region needs to invest in responses that address the root causes of displacement in the Americas, as well as create humanitarian reception programs in countries of first refuge and along the route of migration. In the U.S., while private sponsorship programs and humanitarian parole should continue to be options available to people seeking safety, they cannot replace a functioning asylum system. The scale of this crisis demands a more robust response that also includes bringing an end to harmful policies like Title 42 and scaling up refugee processing in the region. 

Daniel Berlin, Deputy Director of Crossborder, Asylum, and Migration at the International Rescue Committee, said:

“Restrictive and inhumane border policies only fuel the further exploitation of those in desperate need of safety. We welcome all the necessary measures the U.S. has taken to help displaced people from Afghanistan and Ukraine, but other crises cannot be neglected. Seeking asylum is a human right, and it is a moral and legal imperative to give refuge to those fleeing for their lives no matter their nationality, race, religion, color, or creed.  

“Furthermore, Mexico has already received a historic number of asylum claims, and the U.S. commitment to only welcome Venezuelans with private sponsors and return others to Mexico will put more pressure on an already stretched system with limited support. The U.S. can and should build a safe, orderly, and humane process to welcome asylum seekers. Civil society and local communities on both sides of the border have the expertise and infrastructure to help with humanitarian reception services, providing shelter, food, basic medical care, transportation needs, and legal orientation, to name a few. With millions of lives at stake, the IRC calls on the Biden Administration to stand for the protection of all asylum seekers.”