LAFAYETTE, La. — More than 300,000 Venezuelans living in the United States are now eligible for Temporary Protected Status, or TPS.
The Biden administration announced this process on Monday, after, on his last day in office, former President Trump signed an executive order deferring the deportation of Venezuelans for 18 months, leaving them in limbo.
Now, the TPS brings a sigh of relief for many immigrants looking for a better life.
“It is a relief, more than anything it is relief that is felt. In all, I am legal, but I do put myself in the shoes of people who are not,” said Elimar Mendoza, who plans on applying.
Mendoza helps run the family business, a Venezuelan restaurant in Lafayette called Patacón. She's pursuing a degree in criminal justice, after already graduating in Venezuela with a degree in engineering.
To be eligible for TPS, Venezuelans must show proof that they’ve been in the U.S. since before March 8, 2021. This would grant them the ability to work and further delay deportation for 18 months. The TPS could even be extended beyond that point if the humanitarian crisis and regime in Venezuela are still in place.
“Even if you want to return, sometimes it is very difficult to go back,” said Mendoza. “Especially because the economy changes every day, unsafety is very strong, and well, the opportunities are not the best for a person who wants to achieve more or who wants to fulfill themselves as a person.”
Venezuela has seen several years of malnutrition, crime, and decaying infrastructure -- leading to violent protests.
There has been an 8,000 percent increase in the number of Venezuelans seeking refugee status worldwide since 2014, according to the United Nations.
Mendoza says Venezuelans in the U.S. that qualify should get on board.
“In this case, we have the opportunity for the government to give us this way out and be able to achieve stability in this country,” she said. “we have to take advantage of it.”
If you are eligible and would like to apply or find out more, click here.
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