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March 9, 2021

The Biden administration said Monday it would allow hundreds of thousands of Venezuelans in the U.S. without permission to apply for temporary legal status, a move intended to add pressure to President Nicolás Maduro as a humanitarian crisis continues to unfold in the South American nation.


The move means as many as 320,000 Venezuelans could be eligible for Temporary Protected Status designation, which offers citizens of certain nations work permits and protections from deportation for 18 months. 

"This designation is due to the extraordinary and temporary conditions in Venezuela that prevent the nationals who are here from returning safely," a senior administration official said on a call with reporters.


More than 5 million have fled Venezuela in recent years as a near collapse of the economy has led to widespread shortages of food, medical supplies and shelter. 

The move marks a shift in U.S. policy toward the socialist Maduro, whose authoritarian regime has sparked nationwide protests and international condemnation. The U.S., the E.U. and other nations have refused to recognize elections in Venezuela, saying they were fraudulent. Venezuela has also been widely accused of human rights abuses, such as unlawful executions and arbitrary torture. Biden drew praise from bipartisan members of Congress for the decision to offer TPS designation to Venezuelans, which the Trump administration had declined to do even as it imposed harsh economic sanctions on the nation.

“While Venezuelans who fled Maduro's narco-terrorist regime cannot return home safely today, I know they await the day they can return to their beloved homeland,” Sen. Marco Rubio, (R-Fla.), said in a statement. “That is why it is critical that we continue working with our democratic allies to secure a Venezuela free from tyranny and ensure this temporary status in the U.S. does not become a permanent one.” 

The Biden administration said it would work with allies to apply pressure on the Maduro regime and added that there was “no rush” to lift sanctions that have been imposed on its government, including the state-run oil company Petroleos de Venezuela SA.

Source: Forbes
Image Source: Getty Images