The United States announced Wednesday that it will grant 472,000 Venezuelans immigration protection for 18 months, granting them residence and work permits.
President Joe Biden’s administration has extended and reassigned Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Venezuelans who are in the country before July 31, 2023, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) reported this Wednesday.
Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas made the decision “due to the growing instability and lack of security in Venezuela,” he added.
There are around 242,700 TPS beneficiaries under the existing designation and thanks to the reallocation, around 472,000 additional Venezuelans could apply for this protection, he said in a statement.
The program was established by Congress for aliens who cannot safely return to their country due to natural disasters, armed conflicts, or other extraordinary conditions.
The United States considers Maduro’s 2018 re-election fraudulent and nominated Venezuela for the TPS for the first time in 2021.
TPS “provides protection from deportation to people already in the United States if conditions in their country of origin prevent their safe return,” Mayorkas is quoted as saying in the text.
“It is the situation in which Venezuelans who arrived here on July 31 of this year or earlier find themselves,” but “it is important that Venezuelans understand that those who arrived here after July 31, 2023 , are not entitled to this protection,” he warns.
“They will be deported if it is determined that they have no legal basis to stay,” he added.
Applicants for TPS under the new designation must demonstrate that they are Venezuelan citizens (or noncitizens whose last habitual residence was in Venezuela), that they have lived continuously in the United States since July 31, 2023, and that they meet other qualifying criteria Details on this will follow shortly, the government reports.
Democratic President Joe Biden has been under pressure for weeks, initially from several cities such as New York that were overwhelmed by the number of migrants arriving, many of them Venezuelans.
New York Mayor Eric Adams in August called on the federal government to speed up work permits.
And with more than 100,000 asylum seekers having arrived since April last year, the city, which is required by law to provide housing to anyone who asks for it, is facing an unprecedented crisis.
Additionally, in July, around twenty senators, all but one Democrat, called on Biden to reallocate the TPS to Venezuelans and Nicaraguans.
The senators accuse the Venezuelan government of President Nicolás Maduro of human rights violations, detaining “around 245 political prisoners” and barring political opponents from running.
The situation between the United States and the Venezuelan government is tense, but Washington has for some time been willing to gradually lift financial sanctions imposed on the country if it takes measures leading to free and fair elections next year.
Biden repeated it this Wednesday, according to the White House, during a meeting with his Brazilian counterpart Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York.