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US Allowing Venezuelans to Work Legally09/21 06:18


   WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Biden administration says it's granting temporary 
legal status to hundreds of thousands of Venezuelans who are already in the 
country -- quickly making them eligible to work -- as it grapples with growing 
numbers of people fleeing the South American country and elsewhere to arrive at 
the U.S.-Mexico border.

   The move -- along with promises to accelerate work permits for many migrants 
-- may appease Democratic leaders who have pressured the White House to do more 
to aid asylum seekers, while also providing grist for Republicans who say the 
President Joe Biden has been too lax on immigration.

   The Homeland Security Department plans to grant Temporary Protected Status 
to an estimated 472,000 Venezuelans who arrived in the country as of July 31, 
making it easier for them to get authorization to work in the U.S. That's been 
a key demand of Democratic mayors and governors who are struggling to care for 
an increased number of migrants in their care.

   That's in addition to about 242,700 Venezuelans who already qualified for 
temporary status before Wednesday's announcement.

   The protections for Venezuelans are significant because they account for 
such a large number of the migrants who have been arriving in the country in 
recent years.

   Venezuela plunged into a political, economic and humanitarian crisis over 
the last decade, pushing at least 7.3 million people to migrate and making food 
and other necessities unaffordable for those who remain. The vast majority who 
fled settled in neighboring countries in Latin America, but many began coming 
to the United States in the last three years through the notoriously dangerous 
Darien Gap, a stretch of jungle in Panama.

   Venezuelans who arrive in the U.S. after July 31 of this year will not be 
eligible for the protection. Those who are now eligible have to apply to get it.

   Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas granted the expansion and an 
18-month extension for those who already have temporary status due to 
"Venezuela's increased instability and lack of safety due to the enduring 
humanitarian, security, political, and environmental conditions," the 
department said in a statement.

   The administration said it would accelerate work authorizations for people 
who have arrived in the country since January through a mobile app for 
appointments at land crossings with Mexico, called CBP One, or through parole 
granted to Cubans, Haitians, Nicaraguans and Venezuelans who have financial 
sponsors and arrive at an airport. It will aim to give them work permits within 
30 days, compared with about 90 days currently.

   The promise of accelerated work permits does not apply to people who cross 
the border illegally and seek asylum, who, by law, must wait for six months to 
receive work permits.

   Mayors and governors have been clamoring for Biden to figure out a way to 
get newly arrived migrants to be able to work legally, so they can support 

   Democratic officials in New York, Massachusetts, Chicago and elsewhere have 
complained about the strain that newly arrived migrants are putting on their 
resources, especially in New York, where the government is required to provide 
housing for anyone who needs it. The city is currently paying to house about 
60,000 newly arrived migrants.

   New York Gov. Kathy Hochul said in a statement late Wednesday that she was 
"grateful the federal government has acted so speedily to grant one of our top 
priorities: Temporary Protected Status to Venezuelan asylum seekers and 
migrants who have already arrived in this country."

   The city's mayor, Eric Adams, has been especially critical of the Biden 
administration. But Adams on Wednesday praised the decision to grant 
protections to Venezuelans and thanked the administration for listening to the 
city's concerns.

   The number of migrants trying to cross the southern border is rising. That 
poses a severe challenge for the administration, which has struggled to show it 
is in control of the border in the face of Republican criticism. The city of 
Eagle Pass, which borders Mexico along the Rio Grande in southern Texas, 
announced a state of emergency Wednesday due to a "severe undocumented 
immigrant surge."

   According to Maverick County Sheriff Tom Schmerber, about 2,700 migrants 
crossed into Eagle Pass on Tuesday and about 3,000 Wednesday.

   The administration also said Wednesday it was also using Defense Department 
forces to support Homeland Security staff on the border. Homeland Security 
already uses about 2,500 National Guard troops to help Customs and Border 
Protection. In the news release, Homeland Security said up to 800 new 
active-duty troops would also be detailed to the border; they would be used for 
things like logistics to free up Customs officials for more front-line 

   Homeland Security said it was also taking other steps to deal with 
immigration, such as scaling up a process started in May to quickly remove 
families who are found to have no basis to stay in the country. The agency said 
it has also beefed up holding capacity along the southern border.

   And it said it has increased the number of people expelled from the country. 
Since May 12, the agency said it has removed 253,000 people to a little over 
150 countries around the world. That compares with 180,000 removed during the 
same period in 2019 -- before the pandemic drastically alerted the government's 
ability to expel migrants.

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