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International News: US President Joe Biden grants legal status to 450,000 Venezuelan migrants

Posted: Saturday, September 23, 2023. 3:02 pm CST.

By Horace Palacio: In a move that is being heralded as a major win for Venezuelan migrants, President Joe Biden has granted them permission to work legally in the United States. According to Latin Post, around 472,000 migrants escaping the deteriorating conditions in Venezuela will now be eligible for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for 18 months.

The announcement comes after increasing calls from Democratic lawmakers to extend work privileges to newly arrived migrants. Venezuela, under President Nicolas Maduro’s regime, has been suffering from a collapse of political institutions and the economy, leading many to flee for better opportunities.

To qualify for TPS, Venezuelans must have started residing in the U.S. on or before July 31 of this year. The status grants them temporary relief from deportation and allows them access to work permits. The Department of Homeland Security justified this measure, citing Venezuela’s “increased instability and lack of safety.”

DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas stated, “Temporary protected status provides individuals already present in the United States with protection from removal when the conditions in their home country prevent their safe return.”

Mayorkas also warned that migrants arriving after the July 31 cut-off would be subject to removal if they lacked a legal basis to stay.

The mass migration from Venezuela has put pressure on several U.S. cities that have struggled to accommodate the influx of refugees. In particular, New York has seen a significant number of Venezuelan migrants, constituting around 40% of its current migrant population. New York Governor Kathy Hochul and New York City Mayor Eric Adams have welcomed the Biden administration’s decision.

“Protective status simply gives them a shorter window, after which they can apply for their asylum and work status, 30 days versus 180, it allows them to work sooner,” Governor Hochul said.

Mayor Adams noted that the new policy would mean that approximately 15,000 Venezuelans currently in city shelters can be moved “out of our care,” although he cautioned that many other migrants are not eligible for TPS and will remain in the system.

Venezuela is in the throes of a devastating humanitarian crisis, leading millions to flee the country. As per CBS News, the mass exodus marks “the largest refugee crisis ever recorded in the Western Hemisphere.” President Nicolas Maduro has been accused by the United Nations of probable crimes against humanity, including extrajudicial killings and systematic use of torture.

The path to the U.S. is fraught with dangers for Venezuelan migrants. Many have to pass through hazardous areas like the Darrien Gap and territories controlled by gangs and drug cartels before reaching the U.S.-Mexico border.

As the U.S. takes steps to address this part of the larger immigration issue, the new TPS for Venezuelans is seen as a significant, albeit temporary, measure offering hope to thousands of people escaping harsh conditions.


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