US Offers Work Permits to Thousands of Venezuelans Already in Country

04:44 September 21, 2023

US Offers Work Permits to Thousands of Venezuelans Already in Country

The administration of U.S. President Joe Biden says it will temporarily stop deportations of nearly half a million Venezuelans already in the country. In addition, the immigrants will be able to get permission to work.

It is estimated that about 472,000 Venezuelan immigrants entered the U.S. on or before July 31. They now have the ability to get Temporary Protected Status (TPS) that will last for 18 months. About 243,000 Venezuelans already have the status from a 2021 policy change that was renewed last year.

The promise of work permits will not affect people who cross the border illegally and seek asylum. People who enter the country illegally must wait for six months to receive work permits.

The policy for Venezuelans is important because they make up such a large number of the migrants who have been arriving in the country recently.

Biden, a member of the Democrat Party, is seeking reelection in 2024. During Biden’s time in office, the country has faced more illegal border crossings than ever before. The mass migration is partly the result of people fleeing severe economic and political problems in Venezuela.

It is estimated that at least 7.3 million Venezuelans have left the country in the last 10 years. Most have migrated to neighboring South American countries. But in the last three years, many have been coming to the United States.

On Wednesday, New York City Mayor Eric Adams praised the Biden administration’s plan to expand work permits for newly arrived migrants.

However, news media have reported that local officials have said it is difficult to deal with large numbers of migrants entering cities and towns.

New York City, for example, is required to provide housing for anyone who needs it. The city is currently paying to house about 60,000 newly arrived migrants.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) said the expansion of protected status for Venezuelans was needed. It said this was because of “Venezuela's increased instability and lack of safety.”

The number of migrants crossing the U.S.-Mexico border illegally dropped in May. But crossings returned to high levels in the following months.

The Biden administration said the U.S. Department of Defense will send an additional 800 military troops to the border. That is in addition to 2,500 National Guard troops already deployed. The aim is to aid U.S. Customs and Border Protection operations.

Also, the Biden administration will expand a program launched in May to quickly process migrant families seeking asylum and possibly to deport them.

The DHS said it would increase the time that work permits are valid for some immigrants, including asylum-seekers, to five years. This would permit the government to work on processing new requests.

The DHS also said it has deported 253,000 people to more than 150 countries since May 12.

I’m Gregory Stachel.

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