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Some members of Congress say Biden should call off Title 42 removals for Venezuelans

It’s been more than a week since the Biden administration announced Venezuelans arriving at the border would be sent back to Mexico under the pandemic-era border restriction Title 42. Now a group in Congress is asking the administration to reconsider.

Hundreds of thousands of people mostly from Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras and Haiti have been blocked from entering the U.S. under Title 42. This is the first time Venezuelans are also included. 

In a letter to President Biden and administration officials this month, almost two dozen lawmakers, including Arizona’s Raúl Grijalva, say the protocol violates U.S. and international asylum law, and argue expanding it will only make asylum seekers more vulnerable. They note Venezuela is considered the second-largest displacement crisis in the world, according to the United Nations, and families are fleeing violence, insecurity, persecution and other issues in their home country. 

U.S. border officers have reported seeing rising numbers of Venezuelan asylum seekers arriving in recent months. Many have been allowed to enter the U.S. to await asylum hearings and, until now, were not subject to Title 42 because the Mexican government had not agreed to receive them.

But under a new plan forged between the U.S. and Mexico this month, Venezuelans with U.S. ties, money to fly here, and non-expired Venezuelan passports can apply for temporary protection in the U.S.  CBS News  reports the first few applicants part of the program have arrived. The Biden administration says up to 24,000 people will be accepted into the program, while those encountered at the border will be ineligible to apply and sent back to Mexico under Title 42. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention enacted Title 42 after the pandemic’s onset in 2020. But earlier this month, a report released by a Congressional subcommittee probe found the use of the protocol was driven by Trump administration officials, rather than public health authorities. 

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