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DHS opens parole program for Venezuelans

The Department of Homeland Security is now accepting applications from Venezuelans hoping to come to the U.S. on humanitarian parole. The program makes official an effort announced by the Biden administration to respond to an increase in Venezuelans seeking asylum at the border. 

Humanitarian parole allows people to enter the U.S. on an emergency basis and stay temporarily. In a document published to the Federal Register on Wednesday, DHS says Venezuelans applicants must have a U.S-based sponsor to support them, similar to the program established for Ukrainians earlier this year. They also have to undergo a national security screening and pay their own way to fly to the U.S. 

It says applicants are not allowed to enter the U.S. or the program through a port of entry along the border, and those caught trying to cross between ports of entry will be remove from the U.S. under Title 42.

The pandemic-era protocol was enacted by the Trump administration and expanded by the Biden administration this month to include Venezuelans. Rights advocates report hundreds have already been subject to the policy so far. Dozens of rights groups decried the move in a  letter to DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas this week.

"Access to the U.S. asylum process must not hinge on an individual’s nationality, pre-existing ties to the country, financial means, or manner of entry. Title 42 expulsions violate U.S. and international law, have no basis as a public health measure, and return people seeking asylum to grave human rights abuses," the letter said.

The administration has said it will accept up to 24,000 Venezuelans into the humanitarian parole program and online applications are open starting this week.

Alisa Reznick is a senior field correspondent covering stories across southern Arizona and the borderlands for the Tucson bureau of KJZZ's Fronteras Desk.