US gives temporary legal status to nearly half a million Venezuelan immigrants
Before Wednesday's announcement, approximately 242,700 Venezuelans who came to the U.S. before March 2021 received the federal protected status designation.
The Homeland Security Department is granting protections to nearly half a million Venezuelan immigrants who came to the U.S. before July 31 in a move that will allow them to legally work and apply for protection from deportation.
Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas on Wednesday said the Temporary Protected Status program would be expanded and extended for 18 months, citing "Venezuela’s increased instability and lack of safety due to the enduring humanitarian, security, political, and environmental conditions," the department said.
Before Wednesday's announcement, approximately 242,700 Venezuelans who came to the U.S. before March 2021 received the federal protected status designation, and it was set to expire in March 2024. Now, an additional 472,000 Venezuelan nationals may be eligible to apply for the program.
Venezuelan immigrants applying for protected status must meet certain eligibility criteria, including having continuously resided in the U.S. since July 31, 2023. With the 18-month extension on the program, it is set to expire in March 2025.
Additionally, Homeland Security officials said that the work permits will now be valid for five years rather than two for many migrants as part of an effort to decrease the number of renewal applications the agency needs to review.
The announcement comes as Customs and Border Protection agents have encountered more than 2.5 million illegal immigrants so far this fiscal year, according to the latest data available, which is from July.
The administration's announcement was welcomed by large cities such as New York, as they struggle to house the large influx of immigrants, many from Venezuela, and have been calling on the administration to let the immigrants work rather than rely on local services, according to The Associated Press.