US to allow nearly 500,000 Venezuelan immigrants to work legally

The Biden administration said late Wednesday that it would allow hundreds of thousands of Venezuelans already in the United States to live and work legally in the country for up to 18 months.

The decision followed intense advocacy by top New York Democrats, including Gov. Kathy Hochul, Mayor Eric Adams and party leaders in Congress. It would affect about 472,000 Venezuelans who arrived in the country before July 31, temporarily shielding them from removal and waived a one-month waiting period for work authorization.

In an unusual break with their party leader, New York Democrats argued that the city’s social safety net would tear under the weight of more than 110,000 immigrants if they were not quickly allowed to work and support themselves.

Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorgas said he made the decision because conditions in Venezuela “prevent their safe return”, but stressed that migrants who have entered the country since August are not protected and will be “removed if found not to be”. A lawful basis for stay.”

In a joint statement, Senator Chuck Schumer and Representative Hakeem Jeffries of New York, the top Democrats in the Senate and House, said the Department of Homeland Security estimated that half of the immigrants currently living in New York would be Venezuelans. Conclusion They called it “Welcome Forward”.

“As a result of this decision, immigrants will be allowed to work temporarily, fill needed jobs and support their families while awaiting asylum determination,” they wrote. “This decision will significantly reduce the cost to New York taxpayers of housing asylum seekers.”

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Democratic leaders elsewhere, including in Illinois, have also called for help and praised the move Wednesday evening.

As the number of immigrants in northern cities swells, budgets and seats strain, Democratic candidates and political strategists increasingly worry that the crisis could hurt their standing with voters. Republicans in New York, for example, which could decide control of the House next year, have wasted little time stirring up chaos and Democratic conflicts in races for key swing seats.

Mr. The announcement was made as Biden left New York City after a four-day trip to the United Nations General Assembly. .

The president steered the city’s immigrant crisis heavily into his public schedule. But he snuck in privately with Ms. Hochul on Tuesday night during a star-studded reception at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. On Wednesday, he called special status for Venezuelans “one of our top priorities.”

The administration has already extended humanitarian protection to about 250,000 Venezuelans who arrived in the country by March 2021. But officials cautioned that expanding it more broadly could create a new, long-term incentive for migrants to try to enter the country. .

Mr. Adams thanked the White House on Wednesday. But he immediately urged the Biden administration to extend special protections to tens of thousands of immigrants from other countries.

The city currently shelters 60,000 asylum seekers. Mr. Adams estimates that, along with education and health care, it will cost the city $12 billion over the coming years. Allowing more immigrants to work and earn money would help ease the burden on the system somewhat, while generating new tax revenue.

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The White House has taken other steps to help New York City. The Biden administration helped New York secure $140 million in emergency funding and has requested more from Congress. Dozens of federal officials in New York City are trying to help identify other immigrants who are already eligible for work but have yet to file applications.

White House officials argue that only Congress can meaningfully overhaul the nation’s immigration system, altering the flow of immigrants and changing rules about who can work and when. Personally, they are Mr. Little did he hide his distaste for the outspoken criticism of Adams, and other Democrats, saying the mayor’s comments are now being criticized by Republicans as Mr. They pointed out that they are being quoted extensively to attack Biden.

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