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Joe Biden
stated on January 5, 2023 in a speech:
Since a new immigration program was implemented, the number of Venezuelans trying to enter the U.S. illegally decreased “from about 1,100 per day to less than 250 per day on average.”
true mostly-true
President Joe Biden discusses border security Jan. 5, 2023, in the White House’s Roosevelt Room. (AP) President Joe Biden discusses border security Jan. 5, 2023, in the White House’s Roosevelt Room. (AP)

President Joe Biden discusses border security Jan. 5, 2023, in the White House’s Roosevelt Room. (AP)

Maria Ramirez Uribe
By Maria Ramirez Uribe January 6, 2023

Illegal immigration dropped after new Venezuela program, but public health policy also contributed

If Your Time is short

  • From September to November 2022, the number of times Border Patrol stopped Venezuelans trying to enter the U.S. illegally at the southern border dropped from about 1,100 a day to 230 a day.

  • The decrease followed two changes: a new parole program that allows eligible Venezuelan immigrants to enter the U.S. legally for two years; and Border Patrol’s use of a public health policy to quickly turn away Venezuelans who were not eligible for the parole program. 

  • The parole program is being expanded to include Cuban, Haitian and Nicaraguan immigrants.

President Joe Biden announced the expansion of an immigration program that will give 30,000 migrants a month from Cuba, Nicaragua, Haiti and Venezuela the chance to enter the U.S. legally. He touted the parole program’s success with Venezuelans, who have been eligible for it since October 2022. 

"Since we created the new program the number of Venezuelans trying to enter America without going through a legal process has dropped dramatically," Biden said Jan. 5. "From about 1,100 per day to less than 250 per day on average."

The parole program for Venezuelans, which gives eligible immigrants the chance to enter the U.S. legally for two years and work, was announced Oct. 12, following an 84% increase in the number of Venezuelans stopped at the U.S. southern border from May to September.  

To receive the parole, immigrants must apply from outside the U.S., not be in Mexico or Panama illegally, pass a background check and have an eligible sponsor. 

The same day the parole program for Venezuelans was announced, the Department of Homeland Security said it would begin using Title 42, a public health policy, to quickly deport Venezuelan immigrants ineligible for the parole program. Title 42 is a section of federal law that gives the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention the authority to deny entry to the U.S. to people from countries where there is an outbreak of an infectious disease. The Trump administration invoked Title 42 in 2020 to stem COVID-19’s spread.

Before the October changes, Mexico would not accept Venezuelans sent back under Title 42. Because of fraught relations between the U.S. and Venezuela, Border Patrol could not send the immigrants directly back to their country of origin, either, so they were let into the U.S.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection data backs up Biden’s claim that illegal immigration from Venezuela drastically decreased after the parole program’s implementation. But the use of Title 42 also likely influenced the numbers. 

In September, Border Patrol stopped Venezuelan immigrants at the southern border nearly 34,000 times, a rate of about 1,100 a day. That number dropped to nearly 7,000, or about 230 a day, in November. 

Experts told PolitiFact that Biden is correct in saying illegal immigration from Venezuelans quickly dropped. But "it’s nearly impossible to tell which had the greater effect," between the parole program and use of Title 42, said Aaron Reichlin-Melnick, policy director at the American Immigration Council, an immigrants' rights advocacy group. 

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Data is only available for one full month of the program, so the long-term effects of the parole and Title 42 on deterring illegal immigration from Venezuela are not yet known.  

Biden’s Jan. 5 announcement means Nicaraguans, Cubans and Haitians will also be eligible for the parole program and can be sent to Mexico under Title 42 if they reach the southern U.S. border illegally. Mexico has agreed to accept 30,000 immigrants a month from those three countries and Venezuela.

Experts told PolitiFact illegal immigration from those countries likely will drop in the short term.

"Encampments will spring up at the border while migrants who were already on their way wait to assess their options," Reichlin-Melnick said. "The real question, which remains to be seen, is whether this will cause a significant number of people to choose not to leave (their countries) in the first place."

Ariel Ruiz Soto, policy analyst at the nonpartisan Migration Policy Institute, said that who benefits from the program  could vary based on nationality. For example, the sponsor requirement is likely to affect Nicaraguans, who are a newer migration group to the U.S. and therefore have fewer contacts in the U.S. compared with Cubans or Venezuelans.

Our ruling

Biden said that since a new immigration program was implemented in October, the number of Venezuelans trying to enter the U.S. illegally decreased "from about 1,100 per day to less than 250 per day on average."

The program created a legal pathway for people to come into the United States. CBP data shows that from September to November, Border Patrol stopped fewer Venezuelans trying to enter the U.S. illegally, as Biden said. Border Patrol stopped Venezuelans about 1,100 times a day in September, compared with about 230 a day in November. 

At the same time, Mexico began accepting Venezuelans who had been quickly turned away from the U.S. border under a public health policy from which they previously had been exempt. Experts say it’s unclear whether the decrease in numbers can be attributed solely to the parole program; it also might be impacted by the use of Title 42 to quickly deport Venezuelans to Mexico.

Also, data is only available for one full month of the program, so the long-term effects of the parole and Title 42 on deterring illegal immigration is not yet known, experts said.  

The statement is accurate but needs clarification or additional information. We rate it Mostly True.

Our Sources

Phone interview, Ariel Ruiz Soto, policy analyst at the Migration Policy Institute, Jan. 5, 2023,

Email exchange, Aaron Reichlin-Melnick, policy Director at the American Immigration Council, Jan. 5, 2023

Email exchange, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, spokesperson, Jan. 5, 2023

Email exchange, White House, spokesperson, Jan. 5, 2023

Email exchange, Stephen Yale-Loehr, professor of Immigration Law Practice at Cornell Law School, Jan. 5, 2023

The White House, President Biden Delivers Remarks on Border Security and Enforcement, Jan. 5, 2023

The White House, FACT SHEET: Biden-⁠Harris Administration Announces New Border Enforcement Actions, Jan. 5, 2023

Department of Homeland Security, DHS Continues to Prepare for End of Title 42; Announces New Border Enforcement Measures and Additional Safe and Orderly Processes, Jan. 5, 2023

U.S. Customs and Border Protection, DHS Press Conference on Border Immigration Policy Announcements, Jan. 5, 2023

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, Process for Venezuelans, accessed Jan. 5, 2022

U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Nationwide Encounters, accessed Jan. 5, 2023

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Illegal immigration dropped after new Venezuela program, but public health policy also contributed

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