Gov. Hochul says 18,000 jobs available for eligible Venezuelan migrants

Gov. Kathy Hochul announces nearly 400 employers are ready to fill 18,000 open jobs with migrants newly eligible for Temporary Protected Status (TPS). Monday, Oct. 2, 2023.
Susan Watts/Office of Gov. Kathy Hochul

There are approximately 18,000 jobs available for Venezuelan migrants once they become eligible to work via the Temporary Protected Status (TPS) visa program, Gov. Kathy Hochul said Monday.

The governor, during a news conference at Chelsea Market in Manhattan on Oct. 2, said that the Venezuelan migrants will be able to apply for TPS status on Tuesday and will be eligible to work 30 days after filing their claims. 

The jobs will be provided by nearly 400 employers across the state that came forward since late August in a program that pairs companies that need to fill jobs with eligible migrants. The program is intended to solve two problems simultaneously, get more migrants into the legal workforce, while addressing a dire worker shortage across the state.

The openings come nearly two weeks after President Biden’s administration extended and redesignated TPS for Venezuelan migrants who arrived in the United States before July 31. On Tuesday thousands of eligible newcomers can begin applying for TPS, Hochul said.

“The question I had was whether employers would be interested in this program?” Hochul said. “Well, guess what? We already have nearly 400 employers who stood up, who said ‘yes, yes, we will embrace them, we’ll hire them. We’ll give them that shot at the American Dream that they wanted for themselves and their families.’”

There are approximately 61,000 migrants still living in the city’s homeless and emergency shelters, with nearly 119,000 having arrived in the city since spring 2022. Hochul and Mayor Eric Adams have long argued the best way to alleviate the bursting shelter population is to get migrants legal work status so they can support themselves and not have to rely on the city.

Hochul said the available gigs span a plethora of private sector industries. About a quarter of those jobs are in the hospitality industry, with health care and manufacturing coming in second and third at 21% and 10% respectively. Roughly 50% of the jobs — 9,801 — are based in the city, with the rest located in municipalities outside the five boroughs.

“We’re getting specific skills from the employer and then we get the specific work history from the workers and we’ll match them up,” state Department of Labor Commissioner Roberta Reardon said. “It’s a great opportunity. These people came to work, and we’d love to put them to work.”

For the jobs outside the city, Hochul said she has launched a $50 million resettlement program that will pay for housing migrants in upstate counties for a year. In other cases, she said, employers plan to provide accommodations.

While Hochul has said Venezuelans make up roughly 40% of the migrants who have come to New York state, it is currently unclear exactly how many in city shelters will be eligible for working papers under TPS, as the Adams administration has given conflicting counts.

At a migrant briefing last week, city officials said 22,000 new arrivals would be ready to obtain legal work status. That was a change from a week earlier, when the mayor himself said it would be less than half that number — 9,500, which was revised from another count he gave of 15,000. 

But City Hall then backtracked last week, saying officials had misspoken when giving the 22,000 figure and that it is actually just 9,500 who are eligible.

During her Monday news conference, Hochul also urged the federal government to “control the borders.” In practice, she said that means a “thoughtful” and “balanced” national immigration policy that allows for a certain amount of immigration from each country and identifying those who are actually eligible for asylum at the border before entering the country.

Similarly, the mayor’s chief adviser, Ingrid Lewis-Martin, urged the federal government to “close the borders” during a TV interview on Sunday.

But when pressed by a reporter on how she feels about House Republicans seizing on her comments to support their own push to close the border, Hochul said her words will be twisted by Republicans no matter what she says.

“I’ve been in the business long enough to know that no matter what I say, what I say before, after in the middle, they will interpret it and misinterpret it and lie about it any way that suits their political interests,” she said. “That’s the reality I’m in. I’m going to continue to talk straight to the New Yorkers I represent without regard for what national Republicans want to do with.”