Yesterday, the Biden administration granted Temporary Protected Status (TPS) to Venezuelans arriving in the US through July 31 of this year. TPS allows immigrants to legally live and work in the US for 18 months. Until now, TPS status was only available to Venezuelans who arrived before March 2021. The Department of Homeland Security estimates that approximately 472,000 Venezuelans who previously did not have TPS status will now qualify for it. Another 242,000 people who already had TPS will now be able to renew it.
This step is a valuable step in the right direction. Venezuelan migrants are fleeing a brutal socialist tyranny that has caused terrible poverty and oppression, and created the largest refugee crisis in the history of the Western Hemisphere (some 7 million refugees). Letting them live and work here legally is good for the immigrants themselves, and it also benefits the rest of us by allowing them to contribute to the American economy.
The move will also ease pressure on New York City and other jurisdictions where many Venezuelan asylum seekers, who are allowed to stay legally in the U.S. until their cases are decided, have ultimately become dependent on public assistance and charity because they are not allowed to do so. to work legally for at least 6 months after entering the US (in practice often longer). They can now earn a living, especially now that the economy is facing serious labor shortages in many sectors.
Fully solving New York’s problems would ideally also require the city to relax restrictions on new housing construction and drop the guarantee of federally funded shelter. But granting TPS to Venezuelans (who make up a large portion of the city’s recent migrant population) should help. It would of course also help if asylum seekers from other countries could also work.
Biden recently expanded TPS for Ukrainians in the United States, who are of course fleeing a horrific war and Russian aggression. The expansion for Venezuelans is a similar policy, but affects many more people.
While the expansion of the TPS for Venezuelans is a step in the right direction, it is not a substitute for passing a Venezuelan Adjustment Act, which would allow Venezuelans to live and work permanently in the US, as has been done for many other groups who are fleeing war and oppression. socialist regimes of the past. The TPS extension expires in eighteen months, and a hostile president could potentially end it even sooner.
Permanent residence and work permits that do not depend on the whims of whoever occupies the White House would allow Venezuelans and others to better plan and organize their lives and contribute more to our economy and society. I elaborated here and here on the benefits of acts of adjustment for Venezuelans, Ukrainians and other similar groups. Most recently, I pushed for passage of the Afghan Adjustment Act to grant permanent residency to Afghans who fled to the US after the Taliban took control of their country.