US to accept certain non-Mexican migrants in Mexico as refugees

By Ted Hesson

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Biden administration will allow some migrants from Cuba, Haiti, Nicaragua and Venezuela who are already in Mexico to apply to enter the United States as refugees, White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan said on Friday.

The move could offer a way for those migrants to avoid making illegal and often perilous border crossings.

“We encourage migrants to use these legal pathways instead of putting their lives in the hands of dangerous smugglers and traffickers,” Sullivan said in a statement.

The United States and Mexico had been discussing a new U.S. refugee program for people from those four countries who were already in Mexico, Reuters reported earlier this month. U.S. refugees have a path to citizenship and are provided government benefits not available to other migrants.

Mexico’s incoming foreign minister Alicia Barcena said this week that talks were underway related to processing migrants from those nations.

U.S. President Joe Biden has grappled with record numbers of migrants caught crossing the U.S.-Mexico border illegally during his presidency. The number caught crossing dropped in May after Biden implemented a restrictive new asylum regulation, but tens of thousands of migrants remain in Mexico.

(Reporting by Ted Hesson in Washington; Additional reporting by Paul Grant; Editing by Doina Chiacu and Angus MacSwan)