Homeland Security announced it will grant Temporary Protected Status to more than 400,000 Venezuelan migrants already in the United States. The expansion of the program will make those migrants eligible for the protected status also eligible to work in the country.
Eligible migrants have to have arrived legally in the United States before July 31 and must apply for the protected status.
Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas granted the expansion and an 18-month extension for those who already have temporary status because “Venezuela’s increased instability and lack of safety due to the enduring humanitarian, security, political, and environmental conditions,” AP reported.
Venezuelans who arrived in the United States after July 31 are not eligible.
Homeland Security said it will try and grant work permits to migrants within 30 days. Those that entered the country illegally from Venezuela to seek asylum are lawfully permitted to wait six months before receiving a work permit.
As Venezuela has been experiencing an economic and humanitarian crisis over the past decade, 7.3 million Venezuelans have left their country. The majority have settled in neighboring countries in Latin America, but in the past three years, many have entered the United States through the Darien Gap, a dangerous stretch of jungle in Panama.
Many Democratic lawmakers applaud the Biden administration’s move as cities such as New York City, Chicago, and Los Angeles struggle with an influx of migrants.
“Grateful the federal government has acted so speedily to grant one of our top priorities: Temporary Protected Status to Venezuelan asylum seekers and migrants who have already arrived in this country,” Gov. Kathy Hochul (D-NY) said.