Responses Mixed As Joe Biden Extends Federal Program For Nearly Half A Million Migrants – President Joe Biden’s administration has extended legal protection for nearly 500,000 Venezuelans to live and work legally in the United States until 2025 amid growing pressure from Democrats and Republicans.
The Department of Homeland Security extended the protections for 472,000 Venezuelans under the Temporary Protected Status (TPS) federal program on Thursday. The move comes after months of calls from Democrat mayors facing an influx of migrants from the country, despite Republican demands to provide a more secure border.
Biden had been hesitant to make the move. Facing pressure from many Americans who are unsatisfied with his handling of border security, the President has often thought inaction to be the best course with polarized pressure from opponents and allies.
As first reported in the Washington Post, some feared that the extension would encourage more Venezuelans to come to the U.S. However, vocal proponents like New York City Mayor Eric Adams had urged Biden to take action given the impact on local budgets from new arrivals sleeping homeless without any federal protections.
Venezuelans Seeking New Homes
According to a United Nations estimate, around 7 million Venezuelans have fled the country due to ongoing social and political disorder. Many have settled in neighboring countries across Central and South America, but enough have arrived in the U.S. to overwhelm the nation’s strained asylum system.
Former president Donald Trump opted to deal with the situation by severely limiting the number of asylum seekers eligible to apply. They were first required to seek asylum in countries between their homeland and the U.S., before Title 42 introduced in the pandemic, practically barred anyone undocumented under public health grounds.
Biden reversed many Trump-era immigration policies upon taking office, and granted TPS status to migrants from additional countries. Approximately 200,000 Venezuelans have arrived since March 2021 amid growing unrest in the country.
Mixed Reaction To The Decision
Democratic figures were quick to praise President Biden. Senate Majority leader Chuck Schumer welcomed the decision, adding that it would allow “Venezuelans seeking asylum to find temporary employment, support their families, [and] contribute to our economy.” In addition, New York Representative Adriano Espaillat said that the move would “help cities better address the current influx of migrants and help us remember who we are as Americans.”
On the other hand, conservatives were skeptical. Director of Advocacy for the Texas Freedom Coalition Sarah Fields said that Biden’s decision would give citizenship to Venezuelans “with a snap of the finger,” expressing concerns over whether the move was to improve Biden’s re-election campaign by granting the vote to thankful immigrants.
The concern over voting rights was shared by Tennessee Rep. Andy Olges. “Next thing we know, he’s [Biden] going to be extending voting rights to non-citizens,” he said. “And then? There’s at least 5.8 million new voters.”
Shay Bottomley is a British journalist based in Canada. He has written for the Western Standard, Maidenhead Advertiser, Slough Express, Windsor Express, Berkshire Live and Southend Echo, and has covered notable events including the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee.
This piece has been adjusted to correct a coding error. We apologize in any issues in reading the article when first posted.
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