2023October 2023International News

US Extends Temporary Status Protection to Nearly 500,000 Venezuelans

Andrea Gonzalez
Digital Editor

The Biden administration granted thousands of Venezuelan migrants already in the United States the ability to work and live legally for more than a year. The announcement comes as more than 472,000 Venezuelans entered the U.S., fleeing the political and economic crisis that plunged the country into a humanitarian crisis. As the influx of migrants continues to rise exponentially, lawmakers in metropolitan hubs like New York City called on President Biden to extend work access for migrants surviving off local and state resources, reports The New York Times.

According to Reuters, nearly half a million migrants who entered the U.S. before July 31 are now eligible to apply for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for 18 months. TPS is a humanitarian immigration program that allows foreign nationals to live and work in the U.S. without fear of deportation. The measure will enable asylum seekers to find work and ease the strain on state and local resources following Mayor Eric Adams’ remarks that the migrant crisis “will destroy New York City” if asylum seekers cannot support themselves, says Al Jazeera. Mr. Adams pointed out that the situation could cost New York City residents an estimated $12 billion in the coming years in housing, healthcare, and education expenditures.

The precarious relationships between the U.S. and Venezuela’s Maduro regime make it difficult to return nationals. Reuters reports that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) agreed with the administration, stating that the expansion is justified due to “Venezuela’s increased instability and lack of safety” that prevents its people from safely returning home.

As the number of unauthorized border crossings continues to skyrocket, Democratic strategists are worried about the effects on American voters. Republicans, on the other hand, see this as an opportunity to make their case for the White House and blame the administration for fueling the crossings. According to PBS NewsHour, GOP senator Lindsay Graham stated, “We cannot possibly pass legalization legislation until we regain control of the border.” Establishing immigration law reform as dependent on border security and stricter enforcement rules. More officials believe that expanding TPS will also incentivize more migrants to cross into the country.

In response to Republican lawmakers, White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre explained that the Biden-Harris Administration is taking action to increase border law enforcement by deploying military personnel, removing families without a lawful basis to remain in the United States within 30 days, and increasing the DHS holding and processing capacity at the same time as the TPS expansion, as stated on the DHS website. The White House Press Secretary also argues that “this is an issue that has been around for decades. This is a broken immigration system,” reports Al Jazeera. The remarks address failed Congressional efforts to provide a clear legal status path for millions of people already inside the United States.

Apart from Venezuelan migrants, Governor Kathy Hochul highlights that thousands of migrants in metropolitan areas must also begin signing up for work permits to become self-sufficient. Beyond urban hubs, NPR reports that Representative Darren Soto (D-Florida) believes TPS is an opportunity to “unify thousands of families, give them legal status and allow them to work to help alleviate Florida’s labor shortage,” alluding to Senate Bill 1718, which attempts to restrict the flow of undocumented immigrants by invalidating driver’s licenses issued to undocumented individuals in states like New Jersey, and required hospitals to report patient’s immigration status to take advantage of Medicaid dollars.

The administration’s decision to expand TPS for Venezuelans became a central topic during the President’s visit to New York the past week. Mayor Adams, who has been at the forefront of a battle with the administration to deal with the influx of migrants, thanked the White House for its efforts but insisted that there is more to do for thousands of migrants from other countries who are still in need of support from local resources. Nevertheless, the White House maintains that only Congress can effectively change the nation’s immigration laws.

Image courtesy of Flickr

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