immigration /

OPINION: Venezuela’s Releasing Of Violent Criminals Across U.S.-Mexico Border Echoes Mariel Boatlift

Both the Republican and Democratic parties should put aside differences to prevent hostile regimes abroad from taking advantage of the border crisis

The Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela’s intelligence agency is knowingly sending hardened violent criminals – including rapists and murderers – from their prisons to cross the U.S.-Mexico border, according to a source cited by Breitbart. On Sept. 22 of this year, members of Congress sent a letter to the Department of Homeland Security demanding answers regarding a DHS report referenced by Breitbart’s source regarding Venezuela’s activities. This event, even in the context of the border crisis, conjures memories of the 1980 Mariel boatlift to the United States from Cuba. The boatlift dates back to the time of the Jimmy Carter administration between 1977 and 1981. This pair of crises that occurred under Carter and Biden are examples of the deleterious effects of a breathtakingly weak immigration policy.

The Venezuelan Government’s Role In Today’s Migration Crisis 

The Sept. 14, 2022 flight of 50 Venezuelan migrants to Martha’s Vineyard made national news. In the past two years, there has been a surge in Venezuelan migrants across the U.S.-Mexico border. Venezuelans have become the second most stopped nationality at the border after refugees from Mexico. In fact, U.S. Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Chris Magnus has singled out refugees from “repressive regimes” – referring to those fleeing Venezuela, Cuba, and Nicaragua – as overwhelming the border.

Venezuela under Presidents Hugo Chavez and Nicolas Maduro stands out as a recent example of how a previously stable country can have a dramatic downward spiral. Poverty and crime exploded under Venezuela’s program of “Bolivarian socialism.” In 2022, Caracas ranked as the city with the third-highest crime worldwide. Despite the efforts of leftists Westerners to burnish the image of chavismo (another term for Chavez’s so-called Bolivarian philosophy), the country plunged into food insecurity and massive instability all around. Venezuelan military figures and “boligarchs” became wealthy at the expense of everyone else. 

Venezuela’s release of known criminals across the border will most likely compound the crime situation in American cities today. The scourge of fatal drugs like fentanyllinked to Mexico’s cartels – has claimed the deaths of Americans both young and old. As it is, Venezuela’s current government has been connected to narcotrafficking for a long time.

The 1980 Mariel Boatlift and The Crime Epidemic In Miami And Beyond

A sizable population of refugees – nicknamed “Marielitos” who transferred from Cuba’s Mariel Harbor — were released from prisons and mental institutions in Cuba. Out of the estimated 125,000 total Marielito refugees, some sources suggest that 16,000 to 20,000 were designated as so-called “undesirables,” while others indicate that only 2,700 were hardened criminals. Probably the best known refugee from Cuba’s Mariel Harbor is the fictional character Tony Montana, played by Al Pacino in the 1983 film Scarface. The fact that thousands of the Marielitos had criminal backgrounds was concealed from the U.S. during the boatlift which occurred between April and October of 1980. Carter displayed complete weakness on the world stage and failed to vet refugees.

While the refugees now had a chance at a better life in the United States, those who had turned to crime helped plunge Miami – where most of the Marielitos settled – into a city besieged by violent crime. According to an article published March 17, 1981 by United Press International, crime in Miami was 25 percent higher in 1980 than in the second-highest crime city, Newark, New Jersey. Crime spiked in Miami during the 1980s to the extent that Miami Vice became a popular show illustrating Miami’s crime wave.

However, Miami was far from the only location in which the activities of some Marielitos were linked to crime in the United States. A 1985 article from none other than The New York Times indicated that a third of the 1,700 arrests in Union City, New Jersey during 1984 were linked to Marielito refugees. Los Angeles, and other cities reported various crimes also related specifically to Marielitos. 

In 1988, the U.S. Department of Justice under the Reagan administration attempted to deport 15 refugees linked to crime. Ronald Reagan was sympathetic to the plight of Cuban refugees seeking to escape communism in search of a better life in the United States, yet his officials clearly remained vigilant about potential criminals amid rising crime in the United States.

A Bipartisan Solution is Possible

The issue of Cuba and Venezuela releasing individuals with a history of violence into the United States is a perfect example of the importance of a secure border. Clearly the current stream of people pouring across our borders includes individuals that fit the definition of political refugees. Yet the current administration’s policy of an “open border” is nothing short of inhumane. It doesn’t serve the interests of immigrants – regardless of their legal status – nor does it serve the interests of citizens of states along the U.S.-Mexico border. The complete absence of any accountability on the part of the administration makes our country less safe. 

Refusing to enforce laws against crossing the border has succeeded in empowering human trafficking as well as indirectly assisting drug cartels. Despite the urgency of this development, conversations regarding the border have been almost entirely overshadowed by the topic of unverified immigration. The scale of this issue is urgent enough that both the Republican and Democratic parties should put aside differences regarding migration to prevent hostile regimes abroad from taking advantage of the current American border crisis. 

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