NEW YORK — The Biden administration on Wednesday expanded temporary protected status for Venezuela, making close to 500,000 newcomers freshly eligible to apply for work permits.
Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas extended and redesigned Venezuela for TPS for 18 months, following a review of country conditions, a senior Biden administration official told reporters.
About 472,000 individuals are newly eligible and will able to apply for TPS, as well as get work papers, the official said.
The move has been urged by local leaders across the country as a way to make the migrants eligible to legally work. In New York, Gov. Kathy Hochul and Mayor Eric Adams have been pressing the White House to expand the status to migrants who came to the state from troubled countries.
The New York Immigration Coalition estimated the change will impact about 60,000 Venezuelans in New York who can now “quickly acquire work authorizations and immediately start contributing to our local economy and communities.”
“After my productive conversation with President Biden last night, I’m grateful the federal government has acted so speedily to grant one of our top priorities: providing temporary protected status to Venezuelan asylum-seekers and migrants who have already arrived in this country,” Hochul said in a statement after meeting with Biden on Tuesday at a Manhattan reception during the United Nations General Assembly.
Business groups and immigration advocates have joined state and city officials to demand that Biden expand TPS, saying that getting migrants to work would allow them to move out of shelters and start their lives anew.
With the number of migrants in the New York City’s care at 60,000, Hochul and Adams have said migrants are eager to get to work and can fill job vacancies in industries such as health care and construction.
The designation announced Wednesday will apply to those in the United States on or before July 31.
It was long and loudly urged by members of Congress, too.
Adams said he’s been calling for the change since April, saying he personally spoke with the White House on Wednesday night to learn about the announcement — despite not meeting with Biden in the city because of his criticism of the federal response.
“I am hopeful that we can continue to partner with President Biden to extend temporary protected status to the tens of thousands of other migrants in our care from other countries,” Adams said in a statement.
TPS is reserved for individuals who cannot return safely to their home country for fear of armed conflict, natural disasters or other extraordinary conditions.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Democratic Leader Hakeem Jeffries, both New York Democrats, said the decision will aid New York’s strained system, which has been overwhelmed by the surge of more than 100,000 migrants and has led to tent shelters across the city.
“As a result of this decision, immigrants will be temporarily allowed to work, fill needed jobs and support their families while awaiting an asylum determination,” the leaders said in a joint statement.
While Biden can expand TPS unilaterally, another senior administration official on Wednesday stressed that the power to further ease the immigration crisis lays with Congress.
“We are working under the constraints of our fundamentally broken statutory framework that is just inadequate to face the challenges that we are seeing on the border today,” the official said.
Biden officials on Wednesday also announced efforts to accelerate the processing of employment authorization documents, or EADs, for those paroled into the United States after a CBP One app appointment.
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