President Joe Biden, the politician whom Donald Trump portrayed as a friend of Nicolás Maduro and communist regimes in general, will give temporary protection to the hundreds of thousands of Venezuelan citizens who in recent times have emigrated to the United States to flee from the political and humanitarian crisis suffered by the Caribbean country. The decision has been announced by the Secretary of Homeland Security of the United States, Alejandro Mayorkas, who has explained in a statement that it is motivated by the "extraordinary and temporary circumstances" that are currently registered in Venezuela and that it prevents its nationals from returning safely to his country.
Venezuelans who will be in the United States before March 8 now have the ability to apply for Temporary Protected Status (TPS). The regime will be in force for 18 months, that is, until September 2022. Interested parties have 180 days to submit their applications. If they meet the conditions, obtaining protection status will allow them to temporarily legalize their situation in the country and apply for a work permit. It is estimated that around 320,000 people could benefit from the measure, White House sources estimated in a call with correspondents.
The US recalls that the border remains closed despite what the traffickers say.
"Living conditions in Venezuela reveal a country in crisis, incapable of protecting its own citizens," Secretary Mayorkas said in a statement, citing famine, increasing activity by paramilitary groups, as well as repression and problems of infrastructures. In the circumstances like these, "we step forward to support eligible Venezuelan nationals currently present in the United States as their home country seeks to recover from current crises," Mayorkas says.
The TPS regime, recalls the State Department, was created by Congress in 1990. It has been granted at specific times to countries such as El Salvador, Haiti, Honduras, Nicaragua, Somalia, Sudan, or Syria. According to the law, it can be granted to countries suffering an armed conflict, some natural disaster, or extraordinary and temporary conditions. The definition, he argues, covers the current situation in the Caribbean country. "For their own health and safety, people should not believe smugglers or others who claim that the border is now open. Due to the pandemic, travel and admission restrictions at the border remain in effect," the statement added.
"With this decision, we are dealing a severe blow to the Maduro regime."
A day before leaving the White House, on January 19, 2021, Trump approved a measure (Deferred Mandatory Departure) to prevent the deportation of Venezuelans in an irregular situation for 18 months and granted temporary work permits but did not grant them it gave the specific protection of the TPS regime. The Biden administration has gone further and responded to calls from Congress to give these immigrants stronger protection. Both regimes are nevertheless in force. Once TPS is obtained, these people could theoretically apply for permanent residence in the United States (the famous green card). According to the bill sent by Biden to Congress, after three years, request US citizenship.
"Today is a day of great joy. After years of false promises made by the previous administration, today's decision (...) marks a great victory in our efforts to create a more just and humane immigration system," he celebrated New Jersey Senator Bob Menendez, Democrat, the legislator who has led the Congressional campaign for the Biden administration to grant TPS to Venezuelan immigrants. "By supporting the Venezuelan people, we are hitting the Maduro regime" and sending a signal to the world that "the US is once again committed to democracy," the senator of Cuban descent has defended in a video message like Secretary Mayorkas.
As soon as the news was confirmed, Carlos Vecchio, Guaidó's diplomatic representative in the US, told the Efe news agency that the granting of TPS to his compatriots shows that the situation in Venezuela "remains critical." "It is an important measure. It was necessary and urgent to be granted in favor of Venezuelans within the United States," Vecchio said. Maduro's government has so far not reacted to the news, celebrated by opposition leader Juan Guaidó.