The Biden administration announced an expansion of humanitarian relief efforts targeted at Venezuelans already residing in the United States.
According to a Department of Homeland Security (DHS) official, the decision will make approximately 472,000 Venezuelans eligible for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) and work permits.
This new policy will permit these migrants to obtain work authorization without undergoing the usual 180-day waiting period applicable to asylum applicants.
The decision comes after ongoing appeals from New York City Mayor Eric Adams, who has been vocal in his criticism of the federal government’s handling of the city’s migrant situation.
Mayor Adams had consistently called for the White House to expedite work authorizations for incoming migrants, stating, “We appreciate that 15,000 migrant asylum seekers are now something that we can look towards moving out of our care.”
He emphasized, however, that New York City is still grappling with the arrival of tens of thousands of migrants from other countries each month.
DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas announced the extension and redesignation of TPS for Venezuelans for an additional 18 months, applicable to those who were in the U.S. on or before July 31.
The DHS said, “As a result, an additional approximately hundreds of thousands of Venezuelan nationals across the country will be immediately eligible to apply for work authorization. TPS provides temporary protection from removal, as well as employment authorization for eligible Venezuelan nationals.”
New York Governor Kathy Hochul applauded the federal initiative, describing it as a significant step toward alleviating the migrant crisis affecting her state.
“There’s more work to do as we address this crisis, but the State of New York is prepared to immediately begin the process of signing people up for work authorization and getting them into jobs so they can become self-sufficient,” Hochul said in a statement.
According to data from City Hall, approximately 40% of the over 100,000 migrants who have arrived in New York City since the spring of 2022 have been from Venezuela.
Previously, the TPS protections were limited to those Venezuelans who had been in the U.S. continuously as of March 2021, thereby excluding hundreds of thousands of migrants who had fled Venezuela’s authoritarian regime since that date.
State and city authorities are optimistic that allowing migrants to work legally will enable them to secure their own housing, relieving pressure on the city’s overcrowded temporary and permanent shelter network.