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U.S. News

Biden makes sweeping work-permit grant to 500K Venezuelan migrants

By Jake Beardslee · September 21, 2023

In brief…

  • The U.S. Dept. of Homeland Security expanded Temporary Protected Status for Venezuelan migrants in the US, allowing 500K recent arrivals to work legally.
  • NY Gov. Kathy Hochul has long pressed President Biden to expand the program in order to address the migrant crisis overwhelming NYC.
  • The 18-month extension allows Venezuelans who arrived before July 2023 to apply for work permits while offering protection from deportation.
  • NYC Mayor Adams thanked Biden, whom he has criticized in the past, for expanding protections he says will help thousands of Venezuelan asylum seekers.
DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas (above) has has expanded Temporary Protected Status for Venezuelan migrants seeking refuge in the U.S.  DHSgov/Wikimedia

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has expanded Temporary Protected Status for Venezuelan migrants seeking refuge in the U.S., Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas announced Wednesday.

The classification provides nearly 500,000 migrants who entered the U.S. without legal documentation the opportunity to obtain work permits and reside in the U.S. without fear of deportation.

The move comes after New York Gov. Kathy Hochul pressed President Joe Biden to address the migrant crisis overwhelming New York City.

Hochul said in a statement, “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 has long advocated expanding work permits for Venezuelan migrants under the protected status program. She argued that “work authorization is the way out of the migrant crisis” by allowing migrants to earn money and live independently rather than rely on shelters.

Following DHS’s announcement, Hochul unveiled a state initiative to help eligible migrants apply for work authorization and then connect them with employers. The program will deploy more than 70 state staffers to process authorization applications.

Venezuelans comprise roughly 41% of migrants who have entered New York City this year. More than 110,000 migrants in total have arrived in New York since Spring 2022, according to official NYC data.

New York Mayor Eric Adams praised Biden - whom he has sharply criticized in the past over the migrant crisis - for expanding the protected status program: “I want to thank President Biden for hearing our entire coalition, including our hard-working congressional delegation, and taking this important step that will bring hope to the thousands of Venezuelan asylum seekers currently in our care who will now be immediately eligible for Temporary Protected Status.”

The sweeping new program includes Venezuelan nationals who entered the U.S. before July 31, 2023. It previously only applied to Venezuelans arriving before March 2021.

Mayorkas said the protection, which is nationwide, “is warranted due to extraordinary and temporary conditions in Venezuela that prevent individuals from safely returning.”