White House Says Unprecedented Illegal Immigration Driven by People Fleeing ‘Falling Regimes’

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The unprecedented level of illegal immigration at the U.S.–Mexico border largely stems from people fleeing regimes in three countries, the White House said Oct. 24.

“What we’re seeing, this new migration challenge, is driven by people who are fleeing falling regimes and economic collapse in Venezuela, Nicaragua, and also Cuba,” White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said during a press briefing in Washington.

Jean-Pierre appeared to be the first White House official to react after the illegal immigrant arrests at the border in fiscal year 2022 shattered the 2021 number, which had set a new record.

For the first time in U.S. history, more than 2 million arrests were recorded in a fiscal year, after a record-high 227,547 apprehensions in September.

Statistics from Customs and Border Protection show that the number of Venezuelan, Nicaraguan, and Cuban nationals have spiked in recent months, coming in 245 percent higher in September versus the same month in 2021.

The Biden administration is trying to pivot to deal with the new reality, Jean-Pierre said.

“We are hard at work at driving towards a regional solution to manage this new challenge,” she said, pointing to joint actions undertaken by the United and Mexico this month.

New Venezuela Policy

Effective Oct. 12, any Venezuelans who enter the United States between ports of entry and are captured are returned to Mexico. At the same time, a new process introduced by the administration enables up to 24,000 Venezuelans who meet certain conditions to enter the country.

“These actions make clear that there is a lawful and orderly way for Venezuelans to enter the United States, and lawful entry is the only way,” Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, a Biden appointee, said in an earlier statement. “Those who attempt to cross the southern border of the United States illegally will be returned to Mexico and will be ineligible for this process in the future.”

By Zachary Stieber

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