Former President Trump granted illegal Venezuelan refugees protection over deportation and the opportunity to obtain work permits in the final days of his administration, according to the Wall Street Journal.
The move will affect over 94,000 Venezuelan refugees currently residing in the U.S., according to a 2018 estimate, although the current number is expected to be higher, the Wall Street Journal reported.
Trump has granted protections to the refugees for 18 months under the Deferred Enforcement Departure designation, which is similar to Temporary Protected Status (TPS), except it is granted by the president and not the Department of Homeland Security, according to Politico.
Due to the authoritarian policies of the Venezuelan dictator, Nicolás Maduro, Venezuela has become an extremely dangerous place to reside, according to multiple organizations. “A man-made crisis due to corruption, repression and incompetence has plunged a once-prosperous country to the brink of starvation and destitution,” Brookings Institution senior fellow Marcela Escobari told the U.S. House Committee on Foreign Affairs in February 2019.
Severe lack of food, medical care, and cruel policing methods have led to about 4.5 million refugees fleeing the country since 2014, according to a Human Rights Watch report.
“Through force and fraud, the Maduro regime is responsible for the worst humanitarian crisis in the Western Hemisphere in recent memory… I have determined that it is in the foreign policy interest of the United States to defer the removal of any national of Venezuela,” Trump stated in his Jan. 19 memorandum.
Florida Senator Marco Rubio has been a strong advocate for the designation, urging the Trump administration to defer removal of Venezuelan nationals as recently as Jan. 17.
https://twitter.com/marcorubio/status/1350846122168901634?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw” target=”_blank” rel=”noopener
After the memorandum was released, Rubio stated “Thank you @potus [Trump] for approving Deferred Enforced Departure for Venezuelans in the U.S.”
https://twitter.com/marcorubio/status/1351704848140537859?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw” target=”_blank” rel=”noopener
Florida is home to approximately 200,000 Venezuelan immigrants, according to the Migration Policy Institute.
About 2,600 refugees likely will not be protected under the Trump administration’s order under the Remain in Mexico program, which keeps those seeking asylum in Mexico while their legal cases process in the U.S., according to the Wall Street Journal. Since they are awaiting trial results outside the U.S., the designation would not apply to their cases.
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