The U.S. to Allow Venezuelans in the Country to Work Legally
Legal Topics | 2023/09/21 16:07
The Biden administration says it’s granting temporary legal status to hundreds of thousands of Venezuelans who are already in the country — quickly making them eligible to work — as it grapples with growing numbers of people fleeing the South American country and elsewhere to arrive at the U.S.-Mexico border.

The move — along with promises to accelerate work permits for many migrants — may appease Democratic leaders who have pressured the White House to do more to aid asylum seekers, while also providing grist for Republicans who say the President Joe Biden has been too lax on immigration.

The Homeland Security Department plans to grant Temporary Protected Status to an estimated 472,000 Venezuelans who arrived in the country as of July 31, making it easier for them to get authorization to work in the U.S. That’s been a key demand of Democratic mayors and governors who are struggling to care for an increased number of migrants in their care. That’s in addition to about 242,700 Venezuelans who already qualified for temporary status before Wednesday’s announcement.

The protections for Venezuelans are significant because they account for such a large number of the migrants who have been arriving in the country in recent years.

Venezuela plunged into a political, economic and humanitarian crisis over the last decade, pushing at least 7.3 million people to migrate and making food and other necessities unaffordable for those who remain. The vast majority who fled settled in neighboring countries in Latin America, but many began coming to the United States in the last three years through the notoriously dangerous Darien Gap, a stretch of jungle in Panama.

Venezuelans who arrive in the U.S. after July 31 of this year will not be eligible for the protection. Those who are now eligible have to apply to get it. Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas granted the expansion and an 18-month extension for those who already have temporary status due to “Venezuela’s increased instability and lack of safety due to the enduring humanitarian, security, political, and environmental conditions,” the department said in a statement.

The administration said it would accelerate work authorizations for people who have arrived in the country since January through a mobile app for appointments at land crossings with Mexico, called CBP One, or through parole granted to Cubans, Haitians, Nicaraguans and Venezuelans who have financial sponsors and arrive at an airport. It will aim to give them work permits within 30 days, compared with about 90 days currently.

The promise of accelerated work permits does not apply to people who cross the border illegally and seek asylum, who, by law, must wait for six months to receive work permits.


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