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“TPS Is A Victory For Migrants, But Also For Everyone In The United States”: Advocates And Leaders React To Venezuela Redesignation

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“Like Other Immigrants And Asylum Seekers, Those Who Have Fled Venezuela Don’t Want Handouts Or Special Treatment – Instead, They Want To Work And Support Themselves And Contribute More Fully To Their Communities,” Said America’s Voice Executive Director Vanessa Cárdenas

The Biden administration has officially announced that it is redesignating Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Venezuela, a historic move that will allow roughly 472,000 additional Venezuelans to apply for relief, permitting them to work legally, support their families, and live free from the fear of being returned to dangerous conditions.

In a statement, the Department of Homeland Security cited Venezuela’s “increased instability and lack of safety due to the enduring humanitarian, security, political, and environmental conditions” for the redesignation. Under this expansion, Venezuelans who arrived before July 31, 2023 will be eligible to apply for 18-month protections.

The announcement represents a major victory for local and state voices in particular, who had been urging the Biden administration to act and help lessen stresses facing local communities that have welcomed migrant arrivals. The redesignations are not only humane, but should prove to be an economic boon, because work permits will allow immigrants to more fully contribute to their communities. Current TPS holders already pump billions in our economy annually. The Biden administration’s announcement was widely applauded.

“In recent years, hundreds of thousands of my fellow Venezuelans–including many of my loved ones and friends–have been forced to flee to the United States due to the crisis facing our native land,” Make the Road New York Co-Executive Director Arlenis Morel said in a statement received by America’s Voice. “Today’s decision from the Biden administration is a major positive step that recognizes the hardship faced by Venezuelans who have arrived in NewYork and across the country and offers them protection and a clear path to be able to work and support their families.”

New York City Council Speaker Adrienne Adams and New York Immigration Coalition Executive Director Murad Awawdeh had penned an op-ed earlier this month urging the administration to use its authority to protect a number of nations including Venezuela. They celebrated the announcement in a joint statement. 

 “Creating pathways for people seeking asylum to support themselves and our economy will bring critical relief for families, the communities in which they live, and our cities contributing to an international humanitarian crisis response,” Speaker Adams said. “This new status will allow the over 470,000 Venezuelans here in the U.S. and 60,000 Venezuelans who have arrived in New York in the past year to quickly acquire work authorizations and immediately start contributing to our local economy and communities,” Awawdeh added.

“The Biden administration’s decision to grant Temporary Protected Status to Venezuelans is a welcome step forward, one that we advocated for along with many within the congressional delegation,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Democratic Leader Hakeem Jeffries said in a statement received by America’s Voice. “TPS will provide needed relief to New York’s systems straining to support newly arrived immigrants. As a result of this decision, immigrants will be temporarily allowed to work, fill needed jobs and support their families while awaiting an asylum determination. The decision will also substantially reduce the cost to New York taxpayers with respect to the sheltering of asylum-seekers. It is estimated by DHS that more than half of the immigrants in New York will be affected by this decision, we thank the Biden administration.”

“I applaud @POTUS for acting,” tweeted New York Rep. Nydia Velázquez. She noted she had united with fellow New Yorkers Adriano Espaillat and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez to lead a letter  urging the administration to act on Venezuela. The new redesignation “will help ease pressure on NYC and allow 1000s of migrants to work and support their families,” she continued.

“It’s a historic victory for so many Venezuelans & their families in the U.S. who fled a brutal dictatorship in search of the American Dream. It reflects our values as a nation, & will empower our Venezuelan communities to keep contributing to our economy & enriching the U.S.,” New Jersey Sen. Robert Menendez tweeted. “This is a win-win for America. I urge @POTUS to remain bold in exercising its authority to expand legal pathways of migration & address our challenges at the border. We can secure our borders & protect our ideals at the same time. We’re the United States of America.”

“We are grateful that the Biden administration heeded our urgent call, combined with that of mayors, governors, business leaders, labor unions, nonprofits, and faith leaders, to take action and provide this relief for Venezuelans,” said SEIU President Mary Kay Henry. “TPS will allow these hard-working people to work legally and support themselves and their families, which will help alleviate the current strain on cities and states where they have settled.”

The Center for American Progress commented that the benefits of a TPS redesignation will be far-reaching. “Research shows that TPS can also ameliorate the root causes of migration in the first place because recipients are able to send larger amounts of money home, helping their family members who want to remain in Venezuela stay there,” said Debu Gandhi, senior director of Immigration Policy.

“The Biden administration’s announcement is life-changing for hundreds of thousands of immigrants, and for the welcomers who want their friends, loved ones, and family members to thrive and be safe,” Justice Action Center Director Karen Tumlin said in a statement received by America’s Voice. “People like Oldrys, who has been welcomed to Washington state by his lifelong friend Eric through the CHNV parole programs, have counted the days until they could receive the permits required to have the freedom to work and contribute to their communities. These changes hopefully mean these people will not have to wait much longer.”

“Venezuela is just one troubled country among many,” said José Palma, a TPS Holder and national spokesperson for the National TPS Alliance. “Venezuelan migrants are one group among many who have sought safety in the United States — and who are eager to provide for their families and give back to the communities they now live in. Work authorization and temporary legal status are the basic protections they need to make this contribution. TPS is a victory for migrants, but also for everyone in the United States.”

While only Congress can modernize our broken immigration system, President Biden has authority under law to designate or redesignate TPS for nations where returning immigrants is simply too dangerous. Numerous advocates celebrating Wednesday night’s news urged the administration to continue using its authority and protect immigrants from nations including El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Nepal, Afghanistan, Cameroon, Mali, Mauritania, South Sudan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Lebanon, Pakistan, and Nigeria. 

“We thank the countless community members, advocates, and elected officials whose tireless advocacy helped push for this important step forward,” America’s Voice Vanessa Cárdenas said, “and we thank President Biden for recognizing that using his power to improve lives, strengthen the economy and deliver real solutions is both the right thing to do and the smart thing to do.”