The Next Mass Migration Crisis: When Venezuela Fails

The next migration crisis to affect the United States will come from Venezuela. But the United States doesn’t appear to have formulated any plan to respond to a mass exodus originating from this South American nation. And, at present, it is unclear whether Venezuela is even on the Trump administration’s radar as a source of migrants seeking humanitarian relief.

Venezuela has a population of approximately 32 million people. However, following a failed experiment with socialism, 82% of them have been driven into abject poverty.  And the Venezuelan government is teetering on the brink of total collapse. It is no longer able to provide basic services (like electricity and clean water) and food and medicine are in short supply.

The majority of Venezuelans seem committed to remaining home and attempting to solve their own political and economic problems. But brutally violent riots are now a daily occurrence in Caracas and other large cities. And the ruling socialist party has begun viciously suppressing all dissent. It is only a matter of time before people begin fleeing Venezuela en masse. When faced with starvation, or violent death at the hands of government enforcers, people will migrate to the nearest zone of relative stability.

For Venezuelans, that stable zone will be the United States. Colombia, Brazil, and Mexico are closer, but none of those three countries are particularly welcoming to migrants. And why flee to another economically and politically challenged state when America is just a stone’s throw farther away?

Flying distance from Caracas to Miami is a relatively short 1,300 miles and cheap flights are abundant. For those who can’t afford to fly, the preferred approach will most likely be via watercraft. Venezuela sits a mere 800 miles off the coast of Puerto Rico – only a three to four day trip, even by sailboat. The coast of Florida is only a day or two further. The U.S. has already seen a 160% jump in the number of asylum applications filed by Venezuelans. Yet no one in the Department of Homeland Security, the U.S. Public Health Service, or the Department of State seems to be discussing Venezuela’s impending failure, or planning for it.

The U.S. has a history of mismanaging mass migration crises. From the Mariel Boatlift to the recent surge in unaccompanied alien minors, American governments have consistently resolved these events in favor of the migrants, while ignoring the public safety and national security interests of the American public. But this time, with the writing clearly on the wall, team Trump should already be rolling out a plan to deal with a potential mass exodus from Venezuela. Sometimes, the best way to resolve a mass migration crisis is to avoid one altogether.

About Author


Matthew J. O’Brien joined the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) in 2016. Matt is responsible for managing FAIR’s research activities. He also writes content for FAIR’s website and publications. Over the past twenty years he has held a wide variety of positions focusing on immigration issues, both in government and in the private sector. Immediately prior to joining FAIR Matt served as the Chief of the National Security Division (NSD) within the Fraud Detection and National Security Directorate (FDNS) at U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), where he was responsible for formulating and implementing procedures to protect the legal immigration system from terrorists, foreign intelligence operatives, and other national security threats. He has also held positions as the Chief of the FDNS Policy and Program Development Unit, as the Chief of the FDNS EB-5 Division, as Assistant Chief Counsel with U.S. Immigration & Customs Enforcement, as a Senior Advisor to the Citizenship and Immigration Services Ombudsman, and as a District Adjudications Officer with the legacy Immigration & Naturalization Service. In addition, Matt has extensive experience as a private bar attorney. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in French from the Johns Hopkins University and a Juris Doctor from the University of Maine School of Law.


  1. avatar

    Go ahead, add to the mountainous pile of humanity that the United States already supports with its dying and almost dead petrol dollar. The unfunded liabilities that will soon be cut off to pensioners who bought into this Ponzi scheme. Come one come all and watch America fall. You may seek asylum in America but your dreams will be as broken as the multitudes of Americans who unwittingly allowed their treasonist non-government to sell them down the river. Ah yes, there will be civil war here in America once again, however, the death toll will be far beyond the first one. America has 95 million citizens out of the job market and refugees want Americans to allow them in? Yes of course, come on in but please, bring your own body bag.

  2. avatar

    The left needs to do a list of how many failed societies who are unable to govern themselves that this country is supposed to pick up the pieces for. Is there a number? 50? 100? The vast majority of all these “refugees” are economic cases. In the case of Cuba we extended the reign of the Castro brothers for decades by accepting anyone who came here and claimed political asylum. The real dissidents are the people like the Ladies In White who stayed and have endured the abuse of the government. The rest of the island, instead of throwing off a dictator, sit and patiently wait for their turn to leave for this country where they can get on the American gravy train. Including elderly who never put a nickel into our system and come to “visit”, then stay and claim SSI.