WEST SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – The Biden Administration made a major move on the migrant crisis Wednesday; extending temporary protected status (TPS) to some 470,000 asylum seekers from Venezuela.

Temporary protected status protects migrants from removal or detainment based on their immigration status by the Department of Homeland Security. It also eventually allows them to apply to work in the United States.

TPS is an official distinction from the Department of Homeland Security offered to asylum seekers who cannot safely return to their home country because of circumstances there. The U.S. grants this distinction by origin country and is typically reserved for those from nations undergoing armed conflict, environmental disaster, or other extraordinary and temporary conditions.

Leaders of states and cities that have seen a large influx of migrants recently have been calling on the Biden Administration to grant this status to migrants from Venezuela and other countries, so that asylum seekers can get jobs and provide for themselves and their families, rather than relying on state programs.

Migrants from 16 countries, including Afghanistan, Ukraine, and Haiti, are granted TPS. Granting migrants the ability to apply for work authorization does not mean they will receive it, however. First, migrants must apply for and be granted TPS on an individual basis. Then, there is another application and processing period for work authorization.

Massachusetts is one of the most affected states by this year’s influx of asylum seekers. Governor Healey has been calling for reform and reacted to the move Thursday, “It’s not enough. Ultimately this isn’t sustainable. We need the federal government to step up and give us authorizations so people can go to work.”

Elizabeth Sweet, Executive Director of the Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy (MIRA) Coalition issued the following statement.

“Expanding work opportunities for Venezuelans comes at a critical time, as recent Venezuelan arrivals to Massachusetts are eager to work so they can provide for themselves and their loved ones. Finding paths to pair new arrivals with unfilled jobs is also the best and quickest way to address this crisis and boost our economy. While this is good news and we applaud the Healey-Driscoll administration for their advocacy and support for new arrivals, we must do more to ensure that the thousands of recent arrivals to Massachusetts fleeing political and economic crises have the chance to sustainably provide for their families. The federal government must similarly expand temporary protected status designations for other countries including Haiti, Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras – countries from which many arrivals are coming to Massachusetts.”

Local News

Duncan MacLean is a reporter who has been a part of the 22News team since 2019. Follow Duncan on X @DMacLeanWWLP and view his bio to see more of his work.