President Joe Biden is giving thousands of Venezuelans in the US the opportunity to apply for temporary protection in the US, a strike against that country’s government that could have political advantages for the Democrats.
Biden’s arrangement allows approximately 300,000 Venezuelans in the United States to apply for temporary protection status. When granted, recipients can stay and work in the US for 18 months.
The move is intended to increase pressure on Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro, under whom the country’s once prosperous economy collapsed while its citizens have fled or the many looking for food and other essentials.
During the campaign, Biden had promised to expand protection for Venezuelans in the United States, many of whom are in the critical swing state of Florida.
“The living conditions in Venezuela show a country in turmoil that cannot protect its own citizens,” said the Minister for Homeland Security, Alejandro Mayorkas. “In times of exceptional and temporary circumstances such as these, the United States steps forward to assist eligible Venezuelan nationals who are already here as their home country seeks to break free from the current crisis.”
Former President Donald Trump imposed sanctions on Venezuela to oust Maduro. He also recognized the opposition leader Juan Guaído as the legitimate president of the South American country.
But during his tenure, Trump refused to endorse legislation in Congress that grants TPS to Venezuelans, and Congress Republicans also blocked legislation to grant protection status. Many Venezuelans were deported during his tenure.
A senior official in the Biden administration portrayed Trump’s focus on sanctions as a failed strategy. The Associated Press reported.
“The United States is in no rush to lift the sanctions,” the official told reporters in a phone call on condition of anonymity to discuss the policy. “But we have to acknowledge that unilateral sanctions have failed to achieve an election result in the country over the past four years.”
TPS is a temporary, renewable benefit that provides protection from deportation and work permits to people unable to return to their country due to natural disasters, armed conflict and other conditions.
Trump found strong support among Venezuelans in the US in November, helping him win the state in the 2020 elections. When he left, he signed an executive order postponing the deportation of Venezuelans who were at risk of deportation for 18 months.
“A strong signal”
Senator Bob Menendez, a Democrat from New Jersey, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said the continued deportation of Venezuelans to the country he called Maduro’s tragedy “would tell them they are a burden to the community, a threat for our national security and an unwanted guest in our country. “
Menendez and Senator Dick Durbin, D-Ill., Now the Senate majority whip, were primary sponsors of the Venezuela Temporary Protected Status Act. Senator Marco Rubio, R-Fla., Co-founded the bill.
“We’re slapping the Maduro regime … and we’re sending a strong signal to allies and competitors that the United States is once again committed to the cause of democracy,” Menendez said.
To be eligible for protection status, applicants must be US permanent residents as of Monday (March 8, 2021). The department will announce a 180 day registration deadline when applications are ready to be filed with the citizenship and immigration authorities.
All applicants are required to undergo security and background checks. Further details will be published in a notice from the Federal Register.
The administration is encouraging people who have received delayed forced departure or DED under the Trump administration to apply for TPS as well.
Associated Press contributed.