Biden Tweaks Venezuela Policies to Aid Maduro Family, Hurt Everybody Else

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro gestures after a meeting with Colombia's Foreign Minis
YURI CORTEZ/AFP via Getty Images

The Biden administration announced Wednesday evening a policy change meant to limit the influx of Venezuelans illegally crossing the border into the United States, currently at an unprecedented level.

The sudden attempt to limit the number of Venezuelan refugees — many of whom had earlier fled the horrors of socialism under dictator Nicolás Maduro for other South American countries — comes at a time when the Biden Administration has granted Maduro and his family several concessions, including the liberation of his drug-trafficking nephews. The White House has also repeatedly hinted that it has an interest in importing Venezuelan oil, which would be of great financial benefit to the socialist dictatorship.

These acts also go against what Venezuelan Biden supporters were told to espouse during the 2020 presidential campaign. At the time, they tried to convince Venezuelan-Americans and other Hispanics to support Biden claiming that that a prospective Biden presidency — that Maduro “would be afraid” of — would not negotiate with Maduro and instead promote and increase sanctions against the socialist dictator and his regime.

The new immigration measures, which will be handled by the Department of Homeland Security, seek to grant 24,000 Venezuelan migrants a legal pathway into the United States while expelling any Venezuelan illegally entering through U.S. borders. Less than a month ago, leftist President Joe Biden expressed that it was “not rational” to deport migrants fleeing from the authoritarian regimes of Cuba, Nicaragua, and Venezuela.

The prospective 24,000 beneficiaries heavily contrast with the large influx of Venezuelan migrants illegally crossing the border during 2022. As noted by Venezuelan opposition leader Julio Borges, 33,000 Venezuelan migrants were reported to have illegally crossed the border during September 2022 alone. The announcement further states that effective immediately, any Venezuelan that illegally enters the United States will be returned to Mexico and will not be eligible to be among the 24,000 potential beneficiaries of the new program.

The recently implemented measure is a derivative of the Uniting for Ukraine (U4U) program beginning in April that allows a pathway into the United States for 100,000 Ukrainian citizens fleeing from Russia’s invasion of their country.

The Venezuelan migrant crisis is considered the worst migrant crisis in the region by far, and second only to Ukraine’s migrant crisis resulting from Russia’s ongoing invasion of the European country.

As of September 2022, over 7.1 million migrants (out of the nation’s estimated 30 million inhabitants) have fled Venezuela according to the R4V platform, a joint effort between the U.N. Refugee Agency (UNHCR) and the International Organization for Migration (IOM). The platform notes that their records only represent “the sum of Venezuelan refugees, migrants and asylum-seekers reported by host governments,” and, as such, their total does not represent the complete number of Venezuelan migrants spread across all countries, which could be higher.



While largely documented and evidenced, the Maduro regime vehemently denies the existence of the Venezuelan migrant crisis, going as far as to describe it as an “invented” crisis at the United Nations in September.

Following the collapse of the once-celebrated “Bolivarian Socialism,” Venezuela still finds itself amidst an ongoing political crisis that has left the country with two presidents, whose legitimacy fundamentally depends on the person being asked. 

EL PASO, TEXAS - SEPTEMBER 21: Venezuelan migrants walk along the U.S. border fence to turn themselves in to the U.S. Border Patrol after crossing the Rio Grande from Mexico on September 21, 2022 in El Paso, Texas. In recent weeks, Venezuelans have arrived in increasing numbers in El Paso. The city has had to scramble to find housing and other aid for the migrants. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Venezuelan migrants walk along the U.S. border fence to turn themselves in to the U.S. Border Patrol after crossing the Rio Grande from Mexico on September 21, 2022 in El Paso, Texas. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Socialist dictator Nicolás Maduro remains in full control of the country and has clung to power since 2019 after holding sham presidential elections in 2018. His refusal to step down prompted the then- opposition-led congress to act according to the nation’s constitution, designating Juan Guaidó legitimate interim president in 2019. However, Guaidó has been unable to exert any power whatsoever over the country, as all authorities and branches of power remain in the control of Maduro and the United Socialist Party of Venezuela.


Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido (AFP)

The Maduro regime has systematically erased legitimate opposition to his rule, going as far as to do so via torture, sexual violence, forced disappearances, and other heinous crimes against humanity against dissidents.

FILE - In this Dec. 17, 2015, file courtroom sketch, two nephews of Venezuela's first lady, Efrain Antonio Campo Flores, second from left, 29, and Franqui Francisco Flores De Freitas, right, 30, appear in Manhattan federal court at their arraignment on cocaine-smuggling charges, in New York as their defense attorneys Kafahni Nkrumah, left, and Vincent Southerland, standing, represent them. A New York judge agreed Thursday, May 12, 2016, to a tentative court date of November 7, to begin the trial of the two nephews for conspiracy to import 800 kilograms of cocaine into the US. (Elizabeth Williams via AP, File)

In this December 17, 2015, file courtroom sketch, two nephews of Venezuela’s first lady, Efrain Antonio Campo Flores, second from left, 29, and Franqui Francisco Flores De Freitas, right, 30, appear in Manhattan federal court at their arraignment on cocaine-smuggling charges, in New York. (Elizabeth Williams via AP)

The crisis itself has now become a “normal” and integral part of Venezuelan life, and Venezuelans see no realistic political solution, as they have more than enough reasons to believe that not even the country’s “opposition” has the intention to end socialism in the country.

A man holds a placard that reads “Thank you JoeBiden. TPS for Vzla” as he gathers to celebrate the granting of a temporary protected status (TPS) to Venezuelans by President Joe Biden’s administration in front of El Arepazo resturant in Miami, Florida on March 9, 2021. (EVA MARIE UZCATEGUI/AFP via Getty Images)

The disdain is further fueled by all of the concessions granted by the Biden administration to the Maduro regime over the past months that have directly benefitted Maduro and his family, rather than provide benefit to Venezuelans themselves. 

These concessions include the removal of sanctions on Carlos Erik Malpica Flores, Maduro’s nephew and former treasurer. As part of a hostage swap, the Biden administration granted clemency this month to Efraín Antonio Campo Flores and Francisco Flores de Freitas, also nephews of Maduro, who are more commonly known as the narcosobrinos (“Narco-Nephews”) after the pair was arrested and convicted of attempting to move 800 kilograms of cocaine into the United States.

Since March, the Biden administration has been in talks with the Maduro regime to negotiate a prospective oil deal. More recently, a report published by the Wall Street Journal on October 5 alleged that the Biden Administration is preparing oil sanctions relief for the Maduro regime that would allow Chevron to pump Venezuelan oil once again.

As detailed by the report, the prospective deal, in addition to potentially boosting the Maduro regime’s limited oil production from its current 700,000 barrels per day to upwards of 1.5 million barrels per day, would put Venezuelan oil back into the American and European markets, further giving a lifeline to the cash-starved authoritarian socialist regime.

The concessions are part of the Biden administration’s insistence that the Maduro regime and the Venezuelan “opposition” head back to the negotiating table to celebrate “free and fair elections” in 2024 – despite both sides having done so numerous times in the past, never yielding results towards restoring democracy in Venezuela.

“There’s no change to our sanctions policy,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken said at a press conference in Peru on October 7. “That can only follow constructive steps by the Maduro regime to move toward free and fair elections, to engage in negotiations with the Unitary Platform, and for there to be genuine progress in those negotiations.”

Maduro himself has stated his intentions of pushing the tentative “free and fair” 2024 elections to sometime in 2023. For context, the sham elections he used to cling to power in 2018, had they been celebrated in a normal manner, would’ve taken place towards the end of 2018, but Maduro pushed them to May 2018 while banning the opposition from participating and only allowing a puppet candidate, who was once part of Hugo Chávez’ government alongside Maduro, to go against him.

In March 2021, the Biden administration granted Temporary Protected Status (TPS) to approximately 320,000 Venezuelans that were living in the United States as of March 8, 2021, regardless of the circumstances surrounding their entry into the United States and regardless of their past deeds in Venezuela. This fulfilled one of the Democrats’ promises during Biden’s 2020 presidential campaign to the admittedly small number of Venezuelan voters in the United States — the offer itself, generous as it was, was not enough to sway the Venezuelan vote to the Democrats’ side during the 2020 presidential elections.

The TPS, which had a duration of 18 months and was set to expire in September 2022, was extended for an additional 18 months in July but was not expanded to cover any Venezuelan that entered the United States after the March 8, 2021 cutoff date, marking a clear divide in the migrant status of Venezuelans in the United States into two groups: those that benefit from the TPS and those that do not.

As the situation in Venezuela has not changed and Maduro’s socialist regime has instead further cemented its power in the country, the TPS is expected to simply be continuously renewed through time in a similar manner to other decrees of its kind.

Christian K. Caruzo is a Venezuelan writer and documents life under socialism. You can follow him on Twitter here.


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