Mar 8, 2021 - Politics & Policy

U.S. grants temporary protected status to thousands of Venezuelans

Venezuelan citizens participate in the vote for the popular consultation,

Venezuelan citizens participate in the vote for the popular consultation in December 2020, as part of a protest against Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro in Doral, Florida. Photo: Chandan Khanna/AFP

Venezuelans living in the United States will be eligible to receive temporary protected status for 18 months, the Department of Homeland Security announced Monday.

Why it matters: Tens of thousands of Venezuelans have fled to the U.S. amid economic, political and social turmoil back home. Former President Trump, on his last full day in office, granted some protections to Venezuelans through the U.S. Deferred Enforced Departure program, but advocates and lawmakers said the move didn't go far enough.

Details: The TPS designation allows Venezuelans currently in the U.S. to apply for the protective status, which will last until Sept. 9, 2022.

  • "Only individuals who can demonstrate continuous residence in the United States as of March 8, 2021, are eligible for TPS under Venezuela’s designation," the Department of Homeland Security said.
  • TPS allows people from other countries to stay and work in the U.S. if their home nations are ravaged by a natural disaster or war, and they're allowed to stay until things improve.

What they're saying: “The living conditions in Venezuela reveal a country in turmoil, unable to protect its own citizens,” Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas said in a news release Monday.

  • “It is in times of extraordinary and temporary circumstances like these that the United States steps forward to support eligible Venezuelan nationals already present here, while their home country seeks to right itself out of the current crises," he added.

The big picture: More than 4 million refugees and migrants have fled Venezuela in recent years, according to the United Nations. Many have gone to Colombia and other South American countries.

  • Over 145,000 Venezuelans in the U.S. were eligible for protection under the Deferred Enforced Departure program when Trump made the designation in January, per AP.
  • The U.S. and allied countries have sought to isolate Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro, who has clung to power despite challenges by opposition leader Juan Guaidó, who the U.S. and other countries recognize as Venezuela's legitimate president.
  • On the campaign trail, President Biden vowed to grant TPS to Venezuelans "seeking relief from the humanitarian crisis brought on by the Maduro regime."

Go deeper: Venezuela's uncertain future

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