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As Immigration Issue Looms, Biden Officials Turn Eye to Latin America

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Mexico has agreed to accept the Venezuelans, who will be returned under the provision known as Title 42, a public health measure invoked during the pandemic that many experts say has outlived its plausible application. When the Biden administration announced the new plan for Venezuelans, it also said it would add nearly 65,000 more nonagricultural work visas, many of which will benefit Mexicans.

“Those who attempt to cross the southern border of the United States illegally will be returned,” Mr. Mayorkas said. “Those who follow the lawful process we announced yesterday will have the opportunity to travel safely to the United States and become eligible to work here.”

Though consumed for the past year with Russia’s initial military buildup and then invasion of Ukraine, Mr. Blinken has spent increasing amounts of time on Latin America this fall.

Mr. Blinken toured South America earlier this month, stopping in Colombia, Chile and Peru, where he attended a migration meeting at an Organization of American States summit, at which regional officials discussed efforts to address the root causes of migration to the United States.

Of particular concern to the Biden administration is an unexpected surge of migrants from Nicaragua, Cuba and Venezuela. Both Cuba and Venezuela are under heavy U.S. economic sanctions, though the administration insists the blame for dire conditions within their borders lies with oppressive and incompetent regimes.

In Bogotá, Colombia’s capital, Mr. Blinken visited a migrant integration center, funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development, which helps find work, health care and other necessities for some of the 2.5 million Venezuelans who have crossed the border between the countries in recent years. The goal, U.S. officials say, is humanitarian — but also to keep Venezuelan migrants content enough that they do not travel on to Mexico with the goal of crossing into the United States.

“Guatemalans, Hondurans, El Salvadorans, Haitians, Cubans, Venezuelans, Nicaraguans — so many people on the move, and it creates a tremendous challenge for all of us,” Mr. Blinken said at the center.

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