Biden to offer temporary legal status to Venezuelan immigrants in U.S.

The Biden administration plans to announce Monday that it will offer deportation relief and work permits to thousands of Venezuelan immigrants living in the U.S., citing the political and economic turmoil in the South American country, four congressional officials told CBS News.

Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas is expected to make certain Venezuelans eligible for Temporary Protected Status (TPS), which allows the U.S. government to grant provisional humanitarian protection to immigrants whose home countries are plagued by armed conflict, recovering from natural disasters, dealing with an epidemic or otherwise unable to guarantee the safe return of their citizens.

The imminent TPS designation, which was first reported by the Los Angeles Times, is expected to benefit undocumented Venezuelan immigrants who have been living in the U.S. as of Monday. During the presidential campaign, President Biden promised to grant TPS to Venezuelans “seeking relief from the humanitarian crisis brought on by the Maduro regime.”

Republican and Democratic administrations have sought to isolate the increasingly authoritarian government of Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro, who has managed to hold on to power despite a political challenge mounted by Juan Guaidó, who the U.S. and other Western countries have recognized as the country’s legitimate interim president.

In recent years, Venezuela has been beset by political instability and an economic crisis that has fueled an exodus of millions of Venezuelans, most of whom have journeyed to neighboring Colombia and other countries in South America. Last month, the Colombian government announced it would offer temporary legal status to hundreds of thousands of Venezuelans living in Colombia.

The Trump administration sought to terminate several TPS designations as part of its efforts to curtail immigration and end temporary deportation relief programs, like the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) initiative for undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. as children.

Hindered by court rulings, the Trump administration was unable to strip the TPS protections of approximately 300,000 immigrants from El Salvador, Haiti, Nicaragua and Sudan. Mr. Biden pledged to review the termination of these programs, which an appeals court allowed last fall.

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