The United States announced this Wednesday that it will allow 472,000 Venezuelans to benefit from an immigration protection for 18 months that grants them residence and work permits.
President Joe Biden's government 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.
Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas made the decision "due to the growing instability and lack of security in Venezuela," he added.
There are some 242,700 TPS beneficiaries under the existing designation and thanks to the reassignment around 472,000 additional Venezuelans could request this protection, he said in a statement.
The program was established by Congress for foreign nationals who cannot safely return to their country due to natural disasters, armed conflict or other extraordinary conditions.
The United States considers Maduro's re-election in 2018 fraudulent and designated Venezuela for the TPS for the first time in 2021.
TPS "provides people already in the United States with protection against expulsion when conditions in their country of origin prevent their safe return," stated Mayorkas, quoted in the text.
“This is the situation in which Venezuelans who arrived here on July 31 of this year or before find themselves” but “it is essential that Venezuelans understand that those who arrived here after July 31, 2023 are not eligible for said protection.” », he warns.
"They will be expelled if it is determined that they have no legal basis to stay," he adds.
– Cities under pressure –
Applicants for TPS under the new designation must demonstrate that they are Venezuelan citizens (or persons without nationality with last habitual residence in Venezuela), that they have lived continuously in the United States since July 31, 2023, and that they meet other criteria that will be detailed coming soon, the government reports.
Democratic President Joe Biden had been under pressure for weeks, first from several cities like New York overwhelmed by the number of migrants arriving, many of them Venezuelans.
New York Mayor Eric Adams in August called on the federal government to expedite work permits.
And with more than 100,000 asylum seekers arriving since April of last year, the city, obliged by law to provide a roof to everyone who requests it, is facing an unprecedented crisis.
Additionally, in July, around twenty senators, all but one of them Democrats, asked Biden to reassign TPS to Venezuelans and Nicaraguans.
The senators accuse the Venezuelan government of President Nicolás Maduro of human rights abuses, of having imprisoned "some 245 political prisoners" and of disqualifying political opponents from running for office.
The situation between the United States and the Venezuelan government is tense but for some time Washington has been willing to progressively lift the financial sanctions it imposed on the country if it takes measures that lead 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.