The Biden administration has announced that it will grant temporary legal status to hundreds of thousands of Venezuelans already in the United States. This move is in response to the increasing number of people fleeing Venezuela and other countries to reach the US-Mexico border.
The Department of Homeland Security plans to provide Temporary Protected Status (TPS) to approximately 472,000 Venezuelans who arrived in the US as of July 31, 2023. TPS allows them to obtain work authorization in the United States. This decision is a response to the demands of Democratic leaders, who have been urging the White House to provide more assistance to asylum seekers.
In addition to these new beneficiaries, there were already about 242,700 Venezuelans who qualified for temporary status before this announcement.
This protection is crucial as it covers a significant portion of the migrants arriving in the country in recent years. Venezuela has been grappling with political, economic, and humanitarian crises, leading to the migration of at least 7.3 million people. Many of these migrants settled in neighboring Latin American countries, but a growing number have attempted to reach the United States through perilous routes like the Darien Gap in Panama.
However, Venezuelans who arrive in the US after July 31, 2023, will not be eligible for TPS. Those who qualify must apply to receive it.
Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas cited Venezuela’s increasing instability and safety concerns as the reasons for this extension and expansion of TPS.
The administration also announced plans to expedite work authorizations for migrants who have arrived in the country since January. This process will involve the use of a mobile app called CBP One for appointments at border crossings with Mexico and parole for Cubans, Haitians, Nicaraguans, and Venezuelans with financial sponsors who arrive at airports. The goal is to grant work permits within 30 days, compared to the current timeline of around 90 days.
This move aims to address the concerns of mayors and governors who have been advocating for newly arrived migrants to obtain legal work permits to support themselves.
The increasing number of migrants attempting to cross the southern border has posed significant challenges for the Biden administration, which has faced criticism from Republicans over border control. In response to the surge, the city of Eagle Pass in Texas declared a state of emergency due to an influx of undocumented immigrants.
The administration has also mobilized Defense Department forces to support Homeland Security staff on the border, and it has implemented measures to quickly remove families with no legal basis to stay in the country.
While the immigration challenges remain complex, the decision to grant TPS to Venezuelans reflects the administration’s effort to address humanitarian concerns and provide support to those in need.