Monday, June 24, 2024

U.S. extends temporary protection to nearly 500,000 Venezuelan migrants

(Al Jazeera Media Network) The administration of President Joe Biden has extended temporary legal status to an estimated 472,000 Venezuelans living in the United States, citing “extraordinary” circumstances.

Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas announced the decision late on Wednesday, saying that “the conditions in their home country prevent their safe return.”

But response over the following day has been divided, as Democrats and Republicans grapple with how best to address the influx of arrivals.

Venezuela has faced a years-long humanitarian crisis, with more than 7.13 million migrants and refugees fleeing the country to escape dire poverty and political repression.

The decision to extend Temporary Protected Status, or TPS, will allow hundreds of thousands of Venezuelans already living in the US to apply for work authorization, a move Democrats hope will alleviate stress on social service programs.

It also offers protection from deportation, at least temporarily. The latest TPS designation lasts 18 months and applies only to Venezuelans who entered the U.S. before July 31.

Democrats have long pushed for a TPS extension, framing the move as necessary to provide support for both Venezuelans and government services.

New York City, in particular, has been struggling to accommodate arrivals from the U.S.’s southern border with Mexico. According to Mayor Eric Adams, more than 113,300 asylum seekers have come to the city since early 2022, with too few facilities to house them.

Earlier this month, Adams announced an airfield in Brooklyn would be converted into an emergency shelter. He also warned he saw no end to the crisis: “This issue will destroy New York City.”

But on Thursday, New York Democrats hailed Mayorkas’s announcement as a step toward relieving the pressure the city faces.

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