SAN DIEGO – An estimated 343,000 Venezuelans who fled their country’s humanitarian crisis to the United States in 2021 are under temporary legal protection.
In an announcement on Monday, Alejandro N. Mayorkas, Secretary of Homeland Security, announced that the U.S. would designate Venezuela a Temporary Protect Status (TPS), and the refugees would be legally allowed to stay and work in the U.S. for 18 months.
Only these initial immigrants will be eligible for a time extension until March 10, 2024.
Time extension locks out more Venezuelans from the U.S.
While advocates applauded the program extension, they raised concerns over those who arrived after March 8, 2021, which was the cutoff date. These Venezuelans, which number about 250,000, were not given temporary protection, putting them at risk of being sent back.
Secretary Mayorkas reassured the Venezuelans and other concerned humanitarian organizations that the U.S. would continue to work with other international partners to solve regional migration challenges while guaranteeing that the U.S. borders remain secure.
Venezuela is yet to return to normalcy.
Venezuela stares at a dire humanitarian crisis owing to unstable political, economic, and social challenges thanks to plummeting oil prices and years of mismanagement by socialist governments.
Millions of Venezuelans live in poverty amid soaring food prices, few medical supplies in hospitals, low wages, and a four-digit inflation figure.
As a result, the situation has forced at least 5 million Venezuelans to flee from the country for the past five years in search of greener pastures. Many have settled in South Florida, with most immigrants applying for Asylum in the U.S.
The Temporary Protect Status: Is it a long-term solution?
Immigrants from more than a dozen countries are eligible for the Temporary Protect Status created in 1990; the program seeks to protect asylum seekers from nations stricken by natural disasters or civil strife.
Although the program has many beneficiaries, many see short-term reprieves as temporary solutions to an even bigger problem. The federal government extends these reprieves in increments of up to 18 months.
Since 2001, about 200,000 El Salvadorans have held temporary status in the U.S. after an earthquake devastated the Central American country.
Biden Administration under Increasing Pressure to offer more Asylum.
Apart from Venezuela and El Salvador, the Biden administration has issued Temporary Protect Status for people from Cameroon, Haiti, Myanmar, and Ukraine. But the President is facing increasing pressure from Democrat lawmakers to offer temporary protection to more immigrants from Latin America and African countries. Most of these immigrants, the Democrats noticed, have been overlooked despite fleeing violence and strife in their homelands.
Re-registering for Temporary Protect Status for Venezuelans
The forthcoming Federal Register notice will comprehensively provide instructions for re-registering Venezuelans for TPS. It will also offer guidelines for renewing the Employment Authorization Document (EAD) to allow Venezuelans to work in the U.S.
Venezuelans currently eligible for TPS but have not yet made an application with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) are obligated to file their applications before the September 9, 2022, application deadline. The list includes Venezuelans covered under the Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) grant of January 2021. Venezuela’s DED will expire on July 20, 2022.
Issuing the Temporary Protect Status is one of the many ways the current Biden administration works with international partners to extend humanitarian support home and abroad. But it’s hard to tell whether it will be sustainable to offer Asylum to immigrants in the long term.