U.S. Offers Temporary Legal Status, Bringing Respite to Venezuelan Migrants

by Lucas Garcia
Temporary Protected Status

Víctor Macedo and his spouse, after experiencing threats to their lives for their vocal disapproval of the Venezuelan socialist regime, sought refuge first in Spain before eventually arriving in the United States. Residing in Florida for almost two years, they have been relying on the assistance of relatives and friends as they strive for a more secure future for their two children.

They are part of a substantial population of Venezuelans in the U.S., whose prospects are poised for improvement following the Biden administration’s decision to grant them Temporary Protected Status (TPS), thereby facilitating legal work authorization.

“This 18-month period provides us a measure of tranquility, alleviating the persistent dread of deportation,” commented the 38-year-old Macedo, who aspires to establish a bakery like the one owned by his father in Venezuela. “We can now actively seek employment without being dependent on our family here.”

To be eligible for TPS, Venezuelans must have entered the U.S. by July 31 of the designated year. Concurrently, the administration has resumed deportation flights to Venezuela for those lacking proper authorization to stay in the U.S. Legal professionals and immigration specialists are strongly advising eligible Venezuelans to apply for TPS.

“TPS offers a semblance of security and stability for these individuals during their stay in the United States,” said Ilissa Mira, an immigration lawyer associated with the Catholic Legal Immigration Network.

While Macedo and his spouse have applied for asylum, the proceedings are protracted and offer no assured outcome. According to the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse at Syracuse University, nearly one-third of the 3,800 asylum cases for Venezuelans finalized between October 2022 and August 2023 were not successful.

“We are proceeding with both asylum and TPS applications. They complement each other. TPS provides an additional avenue for achieving legal residency in the United States,” said Macedo.

Venezuela has seen a mass exodus of at least 7.3 million people over the past ten years due to political turmoil and socioeconomic instability. While many have found refuge in countries across Latin America, a significant number have risked crossing the perilous Darien Gap, a jungle that separates Colombia and Panama, to reach the United States.

Recent data from the Department of Homeland Security indicates that an additional 472,000 Venezuelans are now eligible for TPS, supplementing the over 242,000 who were already granted the status in 2021 and 2022. The last 11 months have seen U.S. Border Patrol engage with more than 199,500 Venezuelans at the southern border, a stark rise from the 2,700 encountered in all of 2020.

In 2016, Macedo and his wife, Ana Merino, left Venezuela after experiencing threats and violence for not supporting the ruling political party. They initially moved to Spain but had to leave due to ongoing threats from the same groups that persecuted them in Venezuela. Upon entering the U.S., Macedo carried his 3-year-old daughter across the Rio Grande, while their 11-year-old son assisted his mother.

Others, like Deisy Mori, also sought asylum after crossing the U.S. border illegally. Mori and her family fled Venezuela after facing life-threatening situations for their activism. They initially settled in Ecuador but didn’t feel safe, eventually making the arduous journey to the U.S.

“Enduring the hardship, fear, and agony was worth it. TPS offers assurance against deportation,” stated Mori, who previously worked at a multinational firm in Venezuela.

Caren Añez, a 40-year-old independent journalist, arrived in the U.S. with a tourist visa. Living with her aunt in Orlando, Florida, and evaluating her legal options, Añez cited the risk of imprisonment in Venezuela for her journalistic work as the reason for her departure.

“Returning to Venezuela is not conceivable,” Añez declared. “Qualifying for TPS is an unforeseen stroke of good fortune.”

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Temporary Protected Status

What is the Temporary Protected Status (TPS) offered by the U.S. Biden administration to Venezuelan migrants?

The Temporary Protected Status (TPS) is a designation granted by the U.S. government that allows individuals from certain countries to live and work in the United States for a limited period. In the case of Venezuelans, the Biden administration has provided an 18-month TPS, which permits them to stay and work in the U.S. legally without the threat of deportation during that timeframe.

Who is eligible for the TPS?

To qualify for TPS, Venezuelans must have arrived in the United States by July 31 of the designated year. Those who meet this criterion are strongly advised by immigration experts and lawyers to apply.

How does TPS affect those who have applied for asylum?

Individuals like Víctor Macedo and his wife, who have applied for asylum, can also apply for TPS. The granting of TPS does not affect the outcome of an asylum application but it does offer some stability and legal work authorization while the asylum case is being processed.

How many Venezuelans are estimated to be impacted by this TPS designation?

According to the Department of Homeland Security, an additional 472,000 Venezuelans are now eligible for TPS. This is in addition to the over 242,000 Venezuelans who were already granted TPS in 2021 and 2022.

What is the current situation of Venezuelans migrating to the United States?

At least 7.3 million Venezuelans have fled their home country in the past decade due to political and economic instability. A significant number have entered the United States, often risking perilous journeys through regions like the Darien Gap.

What other legal paths do Venezuelans have for entering the U.S.?

Besides TPS and asylum, some Venezuelans, like Caren Añez, have entered the U.S. on a tourist visa and are exploring options like humanitarian parole, another legal avenue for gaining entry into the country.

What challenges do Venezuelan migrants face while seeking legal status in the U.S.?

While TPS provides a temporary respite, it is not a permanent solution. Many Venezuelans have also applied for asylum, but the process is lengthy and offers no guarantee of success. Furthermore, not all Venezuelans meet the requirements for TPS or other legal pathways, which puts them at risk of deportation.

What are the conditions like for Venezuelans before coming to the U.S.?

Many, like Deisy Mori, have faced life-threatening situations in Venezuela and other countries before arriving in the U.S. They often undertake arduous journeys crossing multiple countries, facing hardships, fear, and sometimes physical harm.

Is TPS applicable to Venezuelans who entered the U.S. illegally?

Yes, TPS is also applicable to Venezuelans who have entered the U.S. without proper authorization, provided they meet the other eligibility requirements like the cutoff arrival date.

Are there any plans to extend or make permanent the TPS designation for Venezuelans?

The article does not provide information on whether there are plans to extend or make permanent the TPS designation for Venezuelans. The current TPS is for an 18-month period.

More about Temporary Protected Status

  • Temporary Protected Status Overview
  • U.S. Department of Homeland Security Announcements
  • Asylum Process in the United States
  • Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse at Syracuse University
  • Statistics on Venezuelan Migration
  • Darien Gap: The Dangerous Route to the U.S.
  • Legal Paths for Venezuelans Entering the U.S.
  • Catholic Legal Immigration Network
  • Venezuelan Political and Economic Crisis Explained
  • Humanitarian Parole in U.S. Immigration Policy

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Mike O'Connor October 14, 2023 - 6:02 am

Didn’t realize how many venezuelans are actually in the US. This Biden move is gonna affect a lot of people, in a good way i hope.

John Smith October 14, 2023 - 10:26 am

This is a really important piece. It’s not just numbers and policies, its about real people and their struggles. It’s easy to forget that sometimes.

Kevin Chen October 14, 2023 - 1:11 pm

solid article, but would love to see a follow-up piece on what happens after the 18 months of TPS. Like what’s the next step for these folks?

Rachel Lewis October 14, 2023 - 1:15 pm

The fact that you included multiple perspectives, like from legal experts and the migrants themselves, makes this piece well-rounded. But man, the system is complicated.

Emily Davis October 14, 2023 - 5:11 pm

wow, never knew how complicated the whole TPS thing was. And the stories about what people went through to get here is just heartbreaking.

Sarah Williams October 14, 2023 - 7:16 pm

These personal stories make the whole issue more relatable. Puts a face on the issue, ya know?


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