Joe Biden’s administration will grant temporary protection to Venezuelan migrants in the United States, US officials said on Monday. The country is also working to coordinate international pressure against dictator Nicolás Maduro for free and fair elections.
The move, which could benefit some 320,000 people, fulfills a promise made by the Democratic president during the 2020 campaign to provide shelter to Venezuelans who have left their country amid the economic collapse, humanitarian crisis and political unrest under the leadership of Mature.
Venezuelans in the United States will need to prove their continued residence in the country to qualify for temporary protected status, officials told reporters. If they meet the criteria, they will benefit from an extension of stay of 18 months and will also be able to obtain a work permit.
The decision stems from temporarily extraordinary conditions in Venezuela, including hunger and malnutrition, the growing presence and influence of armed groups and crumbling infrastructure, one of the officials said.
About 5.4 million Venezuelans have left the country in recent years, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).
Biden inherited a tough policy on Venezuela from his predecessor, Donald Trump. If, on the one hand, officials say the Democrat is in no rush to ease sanctions, on the other hand, they say the president wants to distance himself from a high-pressure unilateral push from the Republican.
For this reason, the President of the United States has coordinated more closely with partners, such as the European Union and its allies in Latin America, pushing for Maduro to hold free and fair elections. The dictator, however, has shown no sign that he will budge.
At the same time, Washington is reviewing the sanctions against the South American country so that the measures are effective against the intended objectives and do not unnecessarily punish the Venezuelan people.
The democratic leadership also recognizes the opponent Juan Guaidó as the country’s interim president. “Venezuelans who were forced to travel to the United States fearing for their lives can now sleep more peacefully knowing that the United States stands in solidarity with our people,” Guaidó said in a statement Monday.
The Trump administration has resisted granting temporary protection to Venezuelans, despite demands from Democrats and Republicans. The former president, however, signed an order on the last day of his mandate that temporarily blocked the deportation of these migrants.
While fulfilling a campaign pledge regarding the plight of Venezuelans, Biden sees increasing pressure on the southern border of the United States, with more and more people trying to enter the country with the belief that they will be more welcomed. by the current direction than the previous one. a.
The number of unaccompanied migrant children detained at the border with Mexico has tripled in the past two weeks, reaching 3,250 minors, according to documents obtained by the New York Times.
By filling prison-like facilities as the Democratic administration tries to allocate them to shelters, some of these children were held for more than 72 hours as mandated by law before being transferred to appropriate facilities. There are 1,360 minors in this situation, according to the American newspaper.
Thus, they end up staying in places built for adults, managed by the customs and border protection agency. The agency has been criticized for conditions in federal detention centers, where children are exposed to disease, hunger and overcrowding.
Under US law, the federal government is required to move unaccompanied children within three days to shelters administered by the Department of Health and Human Services, where they remain until they are placed in care. the guardianship of a tutor.
Officials from the Department of Homeland Security often cite delays in tracing children as a reason for prolonged detention.
The number of times border officials have found a migrant trying to cross into the United States has also increased exponentially. That was 78,000 times in January, the highest number for the month in at least a decade, according to the New York Times. Most were adults or families who were quickly returned under emergency regulations due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The rules are different for children found at the border, who are in government custody, forcing the administration to find a place for them. In January, 5,800 children were taken in, about 1,000 more than in October 2020.
To meet demand, Biden’s management recently reopened an emergency facility used under the Trump administration in Carrizo Springs, Texas.
The Department of Health and Social Services had more than 8,100 unaccompanied minors in their shelters on Sunday (7), with space to accommodate just over 838 children.
With Reuters and the New York Times