US offers work permits to half million Venezuelans already in country
WASHINGTON — The United States will grant temporary deportation relief and access to work permits to nearly half a million Venezuelans already in the country, officials said Wednesday, a move that follows calls by Democrats to help newly arrived migrants work legally.
About 472,000 Venezuelans in the United States on or before July 31 will now be eligible for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for 18 months. Some 243,000 Venezuelans already have the status stemming from a 2021 designation renewed last year.
President Joe Biden, a Democrat seeking reelection in 2024, has faced record illegal border crossings, fueled by a sharp rise in recent years of migrants fleeing economic and political turmoil in Venezuela.
Fellow Democrats, most prominently New York City Mayor Eric Adams, have called on Biden to expand work access for newly arrived migrants who have strained local and state resources.
The US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) said expanding protected status for Venezuelans was warranted due to “Venezuela’s increased instability and lack of safety.”
Frosty diplomatic relations between the US and Venezuela make it difficult for the US to deport Venezuelans to their home country. But a US agreement with Mexico has allowed thousands of non-Mexicans – including Venezuelans – to be deported to Mexico in recent months.
Venezuela’s foreign ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The number of migrants crossing the US-Mexico border illegally dropped in May after the Biden administration rolled out stricter asylum rules, but crossings have rebounded in recent months.
To help free up Border Patrol agents, the Pentagon will send 800 additional active-duty troops to the border on top of 2,500 National Guard troops already deployed, the White House said.
In addition, the Biden administration will expand nationwide a program launched in May to rapidly process migrant families seeking asylum and potentially deport them.
DHS said it would increase the time that work permits are valid for certain immigrants, including asylum-seekers, to five years, to allow the government to focus on processing new applications.