After nearly a year of New York pols shouting from the rooftops for President Biden to grant work permits to over 110,000 migrants in the city, the White House late Wednesday night took a big first step in answering their calls by extending and redesignating Temporary Protected Status for Venezuela.
The president’s move extends Temporary Protected Status (TPS), which the Department of Homeland Security can grant to a group of nationals it deems unsafe from returning to their homelands, to Venezuelans already in the country who arrived here on or before July 31 of the year. It will allow some 470,000 Venezuelans already in the U.S. to immediately apply for work authorization and protect them from deportation for the next 18 months.
It is unclear how many of the nearly 60,000 migrants in the city’s care will be benefit from the new policy. U.S. Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-New York) and House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-Brooklyn) say it will be more than half. However, Mayor Eric Adams’ administration says it will be far fewer — roughly a quarter.
The feds also say they will be cutting the processing times for work authorization applications for certain migrants from 90 to 30 days. The change will apply to those who came to the U.S. through a Customs and Border Protection app — dubbed CBP One — and those who came here through a program with Cuba, Haiti, Nicaragua and Venezuela.
New York electeds including Governor Kathy Hochul and Mayor Eric Adams have for many months been pleading with the Biden administration to allow migrants to work, so they can be more self-sufficient and move out of city shelters.
Hochul took a victory lap over Biden’s decision on Sept. 20, appearing to credit her “productive conservation” with the president — who was in town for the United Nations General Assembly — at a New York City event Tuesday night with his action not even 24 hours later.
“After my productive conversation with President Biden last night, I’m grateful the federal government has acted so speedily to grant one of our top priorities: providing Temporary Protected Status to Venezuelan asylum seekers and migrants who have already arrived in this country,” Hochul said Wednesday. “There’s more work to do as we address this crisis, but the State of New York is prepared to immediately begin the process of signing people up for work authorization and getting them into jobs so they can become self-sufficient.”
Adams, who notably didn’t meet with Biden while he was in town, also applauded the president’s decision in an interview on Thursday morning. But he cautioned that with tens of thousands more migrants arriving each month, more needs to be done — like approving TPS for migrants from several other countries and much more funding.
“We need to be clear on where we are, we appreciate the TPS for 15,000 people who are eligible that are currently in our care, but as you indicated we have 60,000 that’s in our care, we are getting 10,000 a month, and this surge may continue,” Adams said. “This is moving in the right direction, but we have a long way to go.”
Adams’ forceful rhetoric around pushing for the White House to expedite migrant working papers appears to have sullied his relationship with the president, a fellow Democrat. The mayor even acknowledged as much in a couple of TV interviews Wednesday morning when asked why he didn’t get facetime with Biden this week.
“Listen, everyone that knows me, there’s an authentic communication style that I have, and sometimes that offends people,” Adams said on Fox5’s Good Day New York. “But I’m not going to be dishonest to New Yorkers and finding a word in a thesaurus that makes it sound politically correct.”
Most immigration advocates also celebrated the president’s decision. But Murad Awawdeh, executive director of the New York Immigration Coalition, also echoed the mayor’s calls for the status to be redesignated and extended to many other nations including Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua and many others.
“Nobody wants to leave their home if they don’t have to. But thanks to the Biden administration extending and re-designating TPS for Venezuela, people who were forced to flee the violence and instability of Venezuela’s collapsing government will now have a fair shot at remaining safe and secure in the United States,” Awawdeh said. “We need to continue providing relief to all immigrants seeking safety and security.”