DEL RIO, Texas — A law enforcement source, speaking on the condition of anonymity, reported the illegal entry of more than 200 Venezuelan nationals south of town early Wednesday morning. The large group, consisting mostly of family units, was quickly apprehended by the Border Patrol and is in transit to nearby stations for processing.
Since Friday, at least 600 Venezuelan nationals have entered through the small West Texas town. Most will be summarily released into the community to travel to their intended final destinations in the United States.
Del Rio, like other cities across the southern border, has seen its share of the increase in migrant traffic. A soft-sided facility was recently opened within the Del Rio Border Patrol Sector to deal with the influx. Del Rio has dealt with large groups of illegal migrants from outside the usual Central American countries normally encountered throughout other border areas.
Because of the relative safety of Ciudad Acuna, directly across from Del Rio, the area is a draw for large groups of Haitians, Cubans, and Central Africans. Cartel violence has slowed in recent years when compared to other cities in Mexico along the border.
Last month, the Biden Administration granted Temporary Protected Status for Venezuelan nationals for 18 months. The designation applies to those residing in the United States since March 8, 2021. The designation suspends any attempts at removal for the period. Generally, these deadlines are extended–sometimes for years on end. Some critics argue this is a pull factor, encouraging illegal immigration from designated countries.
According to DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, “The living conditions in Venezuela reveal a country in turmoil, unable to protect its own citizens, it is in times of extraordinary and temporary circumstances like these that the United States steps forward to support eligible Venezuelan nationals already present here, while their home country seeks to right itself out of the current crises.”
This group will more than likely be released into the United States to pursue asylum claims even though they would not qualify for the TPS designation. The source reports many of the Venezuelans interviewed during the week directly attributed the suspension of deportations by the Biden Administration as the impetus for their entry into the United States.
Randy Clark is a 32-year veteran of the United States Border Patrol. Prior to his retirement, he served as the Division Chief for Law Enforcement Operations, directing operations for nine Border Patrol Stations within the Del Rio, Texas, Sector. Follow him on Twitter @RandyClarkBBTX.