The Biden administration announced Wednesday the expansion of a form of humanitarian relief to Venezuelans already in the United States, making hundreds of thousands more people eligible for work permits and likely appeasing calls by New York City officials to provide work authorization to certain migrants.
The arrival of migrants, many of whom are Venezuelan, to New York City has driven a wedge in President Joe Biden’s relationship with New York City Mayor Eric Adams, who has been a fierce critic of the administration’s handling of the migrant crisis.
Adams repeatedly urged the White House to expedite work authorizations for migrants arriving to the city, so they could get jobs and wouldn’t be forced to rely on the social safety net.
Immigrant advocates argued that a form of humanitarian relief, known as Temporary Protected Status, was perhaps the easiest form of action – without congressional action – the administration could take to satisfy the ask from New York. The Homeland Security secretary has discretion to designate a country for TPS.
On Wednesday, DHS announced that Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas is extending and redesignating Venezuela for TPS for 18 months for individuals that were residing in the US on or before July 31. DHS anticipates around 472,000 Venezuelans will be newly eligible for the status, according to a Homeland Security official.
“As a result, an additional approximately hundreds of thousands 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,” the department said.
New York Gov. Kathy Hochul swiftly praised the federal government’s move, citing a “productive conversation” she had with Biden Tuesday 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,” the Democratic governor said in a statement. “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.”
Biden administration officials have been grappling with a growing number of Venezuelans arriving to the US southern border. Frosty relations with Venezuela make it difficult for the US to remove those nationals arrested at the border, posing a unique challenge for officials.
Venezuela was among the topics of discussion between Biden and Brazil President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva Wednesday.
The two “noted the importance of the restoration of democracy in Venezuela, and President Biden reiterated the United States’ support for the people of Venezuela and outlined our vision of a step-by-step approach where concrete actions toward restoring Venezuelan democracy, leading to free and fair elections, are met by corresponding sanctions relief by the United States,” according to a White House readout.