DHS Announces Expansion of Title 42 and New Immigration Pathway for Venezuelans, Designates and Extends TPS for Ethiopia

DHS recently made major announcements that will undoubtedly significantly impact Venezuelan and Ethiopian nationals. First, DHS is expanding Title 42 to reduce the number of migrants arriving at the U.S.-Mexican border seeking entry to the U.S. Next, DHS is opening a new pathway to citizenship for Venezuelan migrants. Finally, DHS has redesignated and extended Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Ethiopia.

DHS Expands Title 42 to Deter Migrants to U.S.-Mexican Border

The Biden administration has noted that four times as many Venezuelans have attempted to cross the U.S.-Mexican border with the help of criminal smuggling organizations. As a result, effective immediately, DHS has announced that Venezuelans who enter the U.S. between ports of entry without authorization will be immediately returned to Mexico under the terms of Title 42. Moreover, those Venezuelans who attempt to enter the U.S. in this manner will become ineligible for the new legal immigration pathway that DHS has established for Venezuelan nationals.

Title 42 is a little-known federal public health law that the Centers for Disease for Control and Prevention (CDC) under the Trump administration used to quickly deport migrants crossing the U.S.-Mexican border during the COVID-19 pandemic. The law allows DHS to quickly expel migrants without the chance to seek asylum or any form of due process to Mexico or their home countries. DHS has expelled over two million asylum-seeking migrants under Title 42.

At the same time, U.S. and Mexico are working together to target human smuggling operations and prosecute them for their criminal actions. Concurrently, the U.S. will offer additional security assistance to regional partners to address migration issues in the Darién Gap.

DHS Opens New Sponsorship-Based Immigration Pathway for Venezuelans

Building on the success of the United for Ukraine (U4U) program, DHS is set to launch a similar, sponsor-based pathway to immigration for up to 24,000 qualifying Venezuelans. U4U decreased the flow at the border by creating a legal means of entry for Ukrainian refugees fleeing the violence in their home country, and DHS hopes that the new Venezuelan program will do the same. However, one key difference is that while U4U gave Ukrainians refugee status, the so-called “Process for Venezuelans” only grants humanitarian parole, making them eligible for fewer benefits than refugees, such as resettlement assistance.

Venezuelans are eligible for the program only if they have the following:

    • A supporter in the U.S. who has lawful status can pass a security background check and can prove that they have the means to and will provide financial and other support;

    • Passed rigorous biometric and biographic national security and public safety screening and vetting; and

    • Completed vaccinations and other health requirements.

Furthermore, Venezuelans are ineligible for the program if they:

    • Have been subject to an order of removal from the U.S. in the past five years;

    • Have crossed the border without authorization between ports of entry after October 19, 2022;

    • Have irregularly entered Mexico or Panama after October 19, 2022, or are a permanent resident or dual national of any country other than Venezuela, or currently hold refugee status in any country; or

    • Have not completed the required vaccinations or other health requirements.

DHS will evaluate Venezuelans who may qualify for this program on a case-by-case basis. DHS then will fly those individuals they have approved to participate in this program to an interior port of entry to relieve pressure at the border. Once in the U.S., these individuals can apply for work authorization. More detailed information about the Process for Venezuelans is available at: https://www.uscis.gov/venezuela.

Designation and Extension of TPS for Ethiopia

On October 21, 2022, DHS designated Ethiopia for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for 18 months. However, TPS status under this designation is only available for Ethiopians already present in the U.S. as of October 20, 2022. Therefore, Ethiopian nationals who travel to or enter the U.S. after October 20, 2022, will be ineligible for TPS status.

This announcement marks the first time that DHS has designated the country for TPS. DHS has determined that Ethiopian nationals cannot safely return to Ethiopia due to ongoing violence, severe food shortages, flooding, drought, and displacement. In addition, the armed conflict in Ethiopia puts Ethiopian nationals and individuals with no nationality who last habitually resided in Ethiopia at risk of attacks, killings, rapes, gender-based violence, ethnicity-based detentions, and other human rights violations.

Applicants must undergo background and security checks and meet all applicable requirements to obtain TPS status and employment authorization.

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