Today, House Democrats are voting on H.R. 549 – the Venezuela TPS Act of 2019. This bill will extend Temporary Protected Status for Venezuelan nationals and shield them from deportation. It could not come at a worse time and is akin to dousing a growing fire with lighter fluid.
Illegal immigration has surged over the past year, primarily from Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador. But in recent months, there has been a rise in migration from many other countries both in our hemisphere and from the Eastern Hemisphere. One of the latest trends that should sound alarms throughout the Trump administration is the weekly increase in numbers from Venezuela.
While the DHS does not provide monthly data of border apprehensions for countries other than Mexico and Central America’s northern triangle, CR has obtained weekly data from Texas’ Department of Public Safety used internally by Customs and Border Protection (CBP). The numbers show that apprehensions just in Texas of Venezuelan nationals have increased from a trickle every week for the past few months, culminating with a spike of almost double the previous week in last week’s report.
According to the data, which was given to CR by a Border Patrol agent who must remain anonymous because he is not authorized to speak to the press, 189 Venezuelans were caught at the Texas border July 10-July 17, compared to 99 the previous week. The week before that, 47 Venezuelans were apprehended. That is roughly the level of weekly Venezuelan apprehensions throughout June. In May, it hovered around 20, and before that it was 0-5 per week.
This is a very disturbing trend, according to Joseph Humire, expert on Venezuelan affairs.
“Since the mass exodus from Venezuela began in 2014, there are more than 4 million Venezuelans living abroad,” warned Humire, who heads the Center for a Secure Free Society. “A recent Organization of American States (OAS) report warned that by the end of 2020 the number of Venezuelan refugees/migrants can more than double and as many as 8.2 million Venezuelans could have left the country. This would make Venezuela the largest refugee crisis in the world, overtaking Syria.”
Humire notes that while “until now, most of those that fled Venezuela by foot traveled through South America, going as far south as Argentina, it appears that now they are heading north.”
In other words, if this isn’t stopped in its infancy, we could be facing something much larger than even the Central American migration over the next few years. “If the current projections stay the same, and the migrants from Venezuela moving from South to Central America connect with the tens of thousands of undocumented migrants from Central America to the U.S. southwest border, we could see our illegal immigration problem on our border literally triple overnight,” warns Humire.
Humire further warns that Venezuelan migration poses an entirely new national security threat, given that its dictator, Nicolas Maduro, is a client of Iran and Iran is locked in a tense conflict with America.
“While this is taking place, Iran is quietly but overtly increasing its presence in Latin America. As tensions rise in the Middle East over Iran’s aggression in the Strait of Hormuz, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif is in Venezuela, Nicaragua, and Bolivia these past few days to ensure Latin America remains an option in case conflict erupts. … You can be sure that ‘mass migration’ is a phenomenon that Iran is examining to weaponize against the United States.”
Venezuela is Hezbollah’s main base of operations in South America. Hezbollah has direct ties to the country’s former vice president, who is of Syrian descent and still a top minister, and there are hundreds of thousands of Lebanese and Syrian expatriates living there who are native Spanish speakers.
On top of the national security concerns, Venezuela also poses a public health risk. While there are serious concerns over people carrying contagious diseases from many of the countries from which we are seeing migrants, Venezuela’s entire health infrastructure has broken down. The CDC warns against all non-essential travel to Venezuela over concerns of measles, diphtheria, and malaria. It also warns about the re-emergence of polio as a result of “a conflux of plummeting vaccination coverages and ongoing outbreaks of other vaccine-preventable diseases,” together with “the weakening of surveillance programs, forced migrations, and a prolonged political, economic, and food crisis without foreseeable resolution.”
There are also serious concerns about Ebola and measles from some African countries. According to Border Patrol, over 1,100 Africans from 19 countries have been apprehended since May 30. Last week, the World Health Organization declared the Congo Ebola outbreak a global health emergency after more than 2,500 people have been diagnosed with the deadly virus.
Why our government hasn’t officially declared a shutoff and travel ban to and from these countries remains a mystery. Our existing laws should make Venezuelan nationals inadmissible until they can document vaccination history. Asylum does not trump the medically inadmissible statutes of 8 U.S.C. 1182.
When pondering the latest news of migrants ticking up from a failed state with health concerns that happens to be heavily influenced by Iran and Hezbollah, consider the ominous warning El Paso’s DEA chief delivered in an interview with CR in May. “Let’s just put it this way, the cartels are an international organization. It’s a real threat, it’s a prevalent threat, and they do have their associations with groups like Hezbollah, with Afghans, and with radical terrorist organizations,” warned Kyle Williamson, special agent in charge of El Paso’s DEA office, who also served in the DEA’s offices in the Middle East, overseeing narco-terrorism enforcement. “What that does is effectively move those borders right up to the United States. Those cartels link the borders. Just like they use their resources, their technology, their criminal enterprise to conduct criminal activities, they can use those resources to assist terrorists as well.”
Last year, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani passive-aggressively warned that the West will be flooded with “a deluge of drugs, asylum seekers, bombs and terrorism.” There’s no better way for Iran to carry out these threats than through its Venezuelan proxy, especially when it can add biological warfare, through health risks, to its asymmetrical warfare. Nor have the Iranians ever been more desperate to pull that trigger against us.
Editor’s note: Joseph Humire’s name has been corrected from “Jason” to “Joseph” Humire. CR regrets the error.
Daniel Horowitz is a senior editor of Conservative Review. Follow him on Twitter @RMConservative.