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Biden Is Offering Temporary Legal Status To Thousands Of Venezuelan Immigrants In The US

“The living conditions in Venezuela reveal a country in turmoil, unable to protect its own citizens."

Posted on March 8, 2021, at 5:20 p.m. ET

Rodrigo Abd / AP

Venezuelan immigrant Karina Garicia, 46, raises her hand next to her children during a protest.

The Biden administration on Monday announced that it will offer thousands of Venezuelan immigrants already in the US a temporary protected status that will allow them to live and work in the country for 18 months.

Immigrants with temporary protected status (TPS) are allowed to live and work in the US if officials determine that they are unable to safely return to their home country because of an environmental disaster, armed conflict, or other extraordinary conditions.

The Department of Homeland Security said in a statement that the designation was due to extraordinary and temporary conditions in Venezuela that prevent its people from returning safely, including a complex humanitarian crisis marked by widespread hunger and malnutrition, a growing influence and presence of nonstate armed groups, repression, and crumbling infrastructure.

“The living conditions in Venezuela reveal a country in turmoil, unable to protect its own citizens,” DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said. “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.”

Shortly before leaving office, former president Donald Trump issued an executive order deferring the deportation of Venezuelans for 18 months. After Trump issued the order on Jan. 19, the Migration Policy Institute estimated that there were a little under 150,000 Venezuelan immigrants who could be eligible.

Still, the move by the Biden administration is a departure from how the Trump administration treated Venezuelans in the US, deporting them while at the same time criticizing the government of President Nicolás Maduro.

More than 5 million Venezuelans have fled their home country because of poverty, violence, and government repression, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. More than 800,000 of them are now scattered across the world seeking asylum.

DHS also said that people without nationality who last resided in Venezuela and are currently in the US would also be able to receive TPS.

A BuzzFeed News investigation, in partnership with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, based on thousands of documents the government didn't want you to see.