The Biden administration’s decision to grant special status to Venezuelan migrants will have the biggest impact in New York City, where thousands of immigrants will soon be eligible to legally apply for work and eventually leave taxpayer-funded housing.
Mayor Eric Adams and Gov. Kathy Hochul, who are Democrats, called the measure much-needed temporary relief and said Thursday that it could help about 60,000 migrants in care of the city move into independent homes more quickly.
The policy could also help ensure other Venezuelans never have to use emergency shelters.
Even as they welcomed a policy change after months of intense lobbying at the White House, senior New York officials, immigration experts and shelter operators worked to find practical and political implications of a decision that many thought President Biden would never make.
Some accepted that it will do little to address a major crisis facing the country’s largest city – and that encouraging more people to immigrate could ultimately make it worse.
“There was a clear demand from New York City to grant them work authorization, and I want to thank the White House for listening to us,” Adams commented this Thursday, adding that 10,000 migrants arrive in the city every month . and a A significant number remain in our care today.”
The Department of Homeland Security’s announcement, released Wednesday afternoon, said it plans to grant special status to 472,000 Venezuelans who arrived in the country before July 31, protecting them from deportation for 18 months and sparing them a month’s waiting period to obtain a work permit.
The government had already extended special protection to about 250,000 Venezuelans who arrived in the country before March 2021, as well as thousands of other migrants from Ukraine, Haiti, Honduras, Nicaragua and other countries.
On Thursday, the Department of Homeland Security announced it would expand protections for Afghan immigrants.
The program does not provide a permanent path to legal residency but has been used by presidents of both parties to provide humanitarian protection to migrants fleeing wars, natural disasters and other violence.