One of the first decisions Joe Biden made upon arriving at the White House was to include Venezuelan migrants under TPS, a temporary protected status that he has now decided to extend for another 18 months. “After careful consideration, and in consultation with the Secretary of State, today I am extending that (TPS) designation,” Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said in a statement Monday.
This measure is a migratory resource used by the US government to provide shelter to citizens of countries experiencing environmental disasters or armed conflicts. For hundreds of thousands of Venezuelan migrants that the prolonged humanitarian crisis in the South American country has produced, it is a relief as they are protected from possible deportation and have the possibility of obtaining work permits during their validity.
The Biden Administration estimates that 343,000 Venezuelans are eligible under the existing TPS designation, but applications may exceed that number. Senator Bob Menéndez reported that up to the beginning of May some 76,000 TPS for Venezuelans had been approved. These citizens also head asylum applications. Menéndez and other senators recently asked the government to extend TPS in Venezuela and thus allow “thousands of immigrants from that South American country to continue to be protected from deportation and have permission to work legally in the United States.” In a letter released by US media, they pointed out that “since the designation more than a year ago, threats to civilians by armed actors, the total erosion of the rule of law and the systemic collapse of vital infrastructure have forced almost half a million additional people to flee the country, bringing the total number of Venezuelan refugees to more than six million.”
The 18-month extension for Venezuela takes effect on September 10 and runs until March 10, 2024. But the extension puts a limit. Only Venezuelans who have arrived in the United States until March 8, 2021 will be able to apply, those who arrived later run the risk of being deported. It is estimated that 200,000 could be left out of protection.
In the last year, the arrival of Venezuelans to the United States has increased, especially through the border with Mexico. More than 100,000 crossed in 2021, compared to 5,000 who did so in 2020, according to data from the interim government of opposition leader Juan Guaidó, who is still recognized by Washington, and who has celebrated the extension of TPS. There are more than 6 million who have left Venezuela in the last five years, being one of the largest migratory movements on the planet.
Despite the fact that the extension of the measure implies a recognition of the adverse conditions that are still being experienced in Venezuela, the United States has somehow lowered tensions with Nicolás Maduro and is lobbying for the opposition and the Chavista government to resume negotiations in Mexico. , under the encouragement of a possible lifting of sanctions. After a historic visit to Caracas by Washington officials last March, the siege on third parties was relaxed with licenses granted to European oil companies such as Repsol and Eni to market Venezuelan crude with the aim of paying off debts, and it has also removed from the list of OFAC to Carlos Malpica Flores, a senior official linked to corruption cases and nephew of the Venezuelan first lady Cilia Flores.
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