Fact-check: Is Venezuela sending prisoners to the US southern border, as Texas congressman claimed?

Our weekly check-in with the Texas Truth-O-Meter.

By Maria Ramirez Uribe, PolitiFactOctober 12, 2022 3:21 pm, ,

From PolitiFact:

Republicans have praised Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ recent decision to use taxpayer money to fly two planes of Venezuelan asylum seekers from Texas to Florida to Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts.

Meanwhile, in Congress, some GOP lawmakers have raised flags about Venezuelan immigrants at the southern border, citing an alleged Department of Homeland Security report saying the Venezuelan government is sending prisoners to the southern U.S. border.

“DHS confirms that Venezuela empties prisons and sends violent criminals to our southern border,” Rep. Troy Nehls, R-Texas, tweeted on Sept. 18.

A few days later, 13 Republican members of Congress joined Nehls in sending a letter to Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, requesting more information on “the intelligence report.” The letter claims DHS sent such a report to Border Patrol agents instructing them to “look for violent criminals from Venezuela among the migrant caravans heading towards the U.S.-Mexico border.”

The lawmakers’ letter says, “It has been widely reported that the Venezuelan regime, under the control of Nicolás Maduro Moros, is deliberately releasing violent prisoners early, including inmates convicted of ‘murder, rape, and extortion,’ and pushing them to join caravans heading to the United States.”

However, it cites only one article, from the politically conservative website Breitbart News. A Fox News story about this DHS report cites the same Breitbart article.

Breitbart’s story relies on “a source within” Customs and Border Protection who is “not authorized to speak to the media.” The story vaguely describes the DHS report. Other conservative information outlets such as The Epoch Times and The Center Square have also cited Breitbart’s article.

PolitiFact reached out to Nehls’ office asking for evidence and a copy of the report.

“Prove him wrong,” Taylor Hulsey, Nehl’s communications director responded.

PolitiFact did not find any evidence supporting the claim. …

Read the full story at PolitiFact, and listen to an interview with PolitiFact Texas’ Nusaiba Mizan in the audio player above.

Radio interview produced by Kristen Cabrera

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