Washington, Mar 8 (efe-epa).- President Joe Biden on Monday is planning to provide Temporary Protected Status to some 320,000 Venezuelans living in the United States, a move that will allow them to work and reside here legally.
In a telephone conference call with the press, two top US government officials announced Biden’s move, which remain in effect for 18 months, although it could be extended, and only Venezuelans who are in the US as of March 8, 2021, will be eligible to request it.
The measure officially will enter into force on Tuesday when it is published in the Federal Register, the US government’s official daily log of its activities, including laws, decisions and public announcements.
Starting with the publication of the measure on Tuesday, eligible Venezuelans will have 180 days to sign up for the program.
In addition, to be able to take advantage of it, people will have to prove that they have no criminal record and will have to pay fees totaling $545 to US Citizenship and Immigration Services, which will process the applications.
TPS is an immigration program created in 1980 whereby the US grants extraordinary permission to immigrants of nations affected by violent conflicts, natural disasters, epidemics or other situations that make returning to their countries of origin unsafe.
In this case, Biden decided to authorize TPS for Venezuelans, given that his administration believes that they cannot safely return to their country because of the “extraordinary conditions” that currently prevail there, the two officials told reporters, speaking on condition of anonymity.
The decision arises from the “extraordinary temporary conditions” in Venezuela, including “widespread hunger and malnutrition, growing presence and influence of non-state armed groups, a crumbling infrastructure” and other conditions, one of the officials said, adding that “It is not safe for them to return.”
That official said that the government estimates that some 320,000 Venezuelans could benefit from TPS.
A consensus has grown among Democrats and Republicans in Congress over the need to authorize TPS to Venezuelans and, during the presidential election campaign, Biden promised that one of his first acts in office would be to grant that benefit to Venezuelans.
Before leaving office, his predecessor, Donald Trump, suspended for 18 months the deportation of Venezuelans who had entered the US illegally and granted them temporary work permits.
Trump made the move on the basis of Deferred Enforced Departure, an immigration benefit that allows certain individuals from designated countries and regions facing political or civic conflict or natural disaster to temporarily remain in the US for a specific period of time.
US presidents have used DED in the past for foreign policy reasons, for example to exert pressure on a specific country.
Meanwhile, at first TPS lacked those political connotations and was more of a humanitarian benefit.
DED will remain in effect and Venezuelans may request either of the two benefits, according to the officials.