After years of uncertainty, Venezuelan immigrants in the United States will finally have the option to apply for Temporary Protected Status.
On Monday, the Biden Administration announced that undocumented Venezuelan immigrants who have fled Nicolás Maduro’s regime would have another immigration option other than applying for asylum.
Not only does this help Venezuelans looking to escape their country, but it also adds pressure to the Maduro dictatorship, which has created poverty in the once-wealthy South American country.
According to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) notice, about 300,000 Venezuelans who are in the United States will be permitted to apply for TPS, otherwise known as Temporary Protected Status. This means they would get to legally stay for 18 months in the U.S. with the right to work.
A DHS Senior official said in a statement, “The suffering and the ongoing turmoil the Venezuelan people have endured is well documented. This designation is due to the extraordinary and temporary conditions in Venezuela that prevent the nationals there, if you are here, from returning safely.”
An estimated 5 million Venezuelans have fled from their country and migrated to neighboring countries as well as Europe and the United States.
In January, the Biden administration recognized the leader of the opposition, Juan Guaido, as the president of Venezuela, a move also done by the Trump administration with no success to overthrow Maduro.
New Jersey Democratic Senator Bob Menendez said, “To keep deporting Venezuelans back to Maduro’s tragedy would be to tell them they are a burden on our communities, a menace to our national security, and an unwelcome guest in our country. Reality and our national interest are precisely the opposite.”
Menendez also said this move is making waves to the Maduro regime, the same government that has blatantly ignored his citizens’ basic human needs from healthcare to food. He noted this is “sending a powerful signal to allies and competitors that the United States is once again committed to the cause of democracy.”
The decision to approve Temporary Protected Status for Venezuelans also had bipartisan support in Congress. Republican Florida Representative Carlos Gimenez said, “Nicolás Maduro and his criminal communist regime have stolen the wealth, obliterated the civil rights, persecuted, and tortured the people of Venezuela, forcing millions to leave their homeland seeking the freedom and security that they cannot find in his own nation.”
However, those same Republicans expressed their worry about how TPS could lead to a more permanent residency by extending their TPS, similar to how Syrians have been doing in the U.S. too. Florida Republican Senator Marco Rubio said in support but with a caution of the legislation, “It is critical that we continue working with our democratic allies to secure a Venezuela free from tyranny and ensure this temporary status in the U.S. does not become a permanent one.”
The move comes after the Trump administration created the Deferred Enforced Departure (DED), barring the deportation of Venezuelans, which, although helped in the situation, left them in some random middle ground in the country while awaiting new executive order from the Biden administration.