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U.S. will expand Temporary Protected Status to hundreds of thousands of Venezuelans

Marilyn Miranda, 12, of Washington raises her hand up during a protest for an extension of the Temporary Protected Status in September 2022 in Washington, D.C.
Jacquelyn Martin
/
AP
Marilyn Miranda, 12, of Washington raises her hand up during a protest for an extension of the Temporary Protected Status in September 2022 in Washington, D.C.

The Biden administration said Wednesday night that it will grant work permits and temporary relief from deportation to nearly half a million Venezuelans who are already in the U.S.

The announcement follows calls from Democrats to help newly arrived migrants work legally.

Venezuelans who were in the U.S. as of July 31 can sign up for Temporary Protected Status, or TPS. Homeland Security officials estimate that about 242,700 Venezuelans are currently covered by TPS and that roughly 472,000 more people will now be eligible for work permits.

"After reviewing the country conditions in Venezuela and consulting with interagency partners, Secretary Mayorkas determined that an 18-month TPS extension and redesignation are warranted based on Venezuela's increased instability and lack of safety due to the enduring humanitarian, security, political, and environmental conditions," the Department of Homeland Security said in a statement.

Prominent Democrats, including New York City Mayor Eric Adams, have been calling on the Biden administration to extend work access for newly arrived migrants who are straining local resources. But the administration had been reluctant. Millions of people have left Venezuela in recent years, fleeing from economic and political turmoil. Republicans and immigration hardliners warn that expanding TPS will encourage more migration.

Temporary Protected Status is not a pathway to permanent residency. But critics say the program has allowed hundreds of thousands of people to stay in the U.S. indefinitely while their status is extended.

Earlier this month, Adams declared the asylum-seekers crisis would "destroy New York City." Last night, he responded to the announcement by thanking the White House for "taking this important step that will bring hope to the thousands of Venezuelan asylum seekers currently in our care who will now be immediately eligible for Temporary Protected Status."

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul released a similar statement, saying, "There's more work to do as we address this crisis, but the State of New York is prepared to immediately begin the process of signing people up for work authorization and getting them into jobs so they can become self-sufficient."

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Joel Rose is a correspondent on NPR's National Desk. He covers immigration and breaking news.
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