By Ana Malaver
Miami, Mar 9 (EFE).- “I’ll finally get a good night’s sleep,” an Uber driver told Efe. “We won’t have to leave now,” a personal trainer added.
Those comments reflect the enormous sense of relief experienced by hundreds of thousands of Venezuelan migrants this week after they became eligible to apply for temporary protected status in the United States.
President Joe Biden on Monday fulfilled one of his campaign promises by granting Venezuelans TPS for a period of 18 months, a move that will allow more than 300,000 of these people to escape their migratory limbo and stay and work legally in the US.
Mariana Molero, a Venezuelan attorney who is now working as a personal trainer in Miami, told Efe that Monday was one of the most important days of her life.
She and her husband, Adolfo Fernandez, are among a large group of Venezuelans who left their homeland and arrived in the US in the first decade of this century. They both sought political asylum but their applications were denied and Fernandez was issued a deportation order.
During the administration of Biden’s predecessor, Donald Trump, he was detained pending deportation for 31 days but successfully appealed to halt the process.
The couple’s two children, Diego and Paola, were born in Miami, and the fear of being separated from them has contributed to the roller coaster of emotions they have experienced while trying to resolve their migratory situation.
“You can’t imagine what it’s like fearing that ICE (US Immigration and Customs Enforcement) will knock on your door,” Molero said in expressing her gratitude for both Biden’s move and Trump’s 18-month Deferred Enforced Departure, a similar benefit that, unlike TPS, does not grant legal status.
Edson Smitter, a 38-year-old photographer, said that since arriving in the US after “run-ins” with officials in leftist Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro’s administration he has been in a “migratory limbo” and has been unable to see his family.
He now says he is confident that Biden “will open the door for him to live here and become a citizen.”
The TPS granted to Venezuelan emigrants is also good news for their countrymen in the Caribbean nation because hundreds of thousands of these people now have the prospect of securing better jobs in the formal economy and being able to send more remittances home.
Remittances amounting to more than $869 million were sent from the US to Venezuela last year, which was lower than the total in 2019 but still represented between 4 percent and 5 percent of that nation’s gross domestic product, according to different agencies.
More than 5 million Venezuelan emigrants have emigrated from their homeland since 2015 for political and economic reasons, according to the United Nations, while the US – and South Florida in particular – has been one of the largest magnets for that diaspora.
The US imposed sanctions on Venezuela in 2015, but the Trump administration drastically escalated what Caracas denounced as “unilateral punitive measures” against the petroleum-rich South American nation, including an attempt to cripple state-owned oil company PDVSA’s exports.
Venezuela’s opposition, backed by the US and its allies, rejected Maduro’s May 2018 re-election as illegitimate, while the US (both under Trump and now Biden) leads a group of countries that regard former National Assembly speaker Juan Guaido as that nation’s legitimate head of state.
Roughly two-thirds of United Nations member-states continue to recognize Maduro’s government. EFE