Biden officials urge patience on immigration amid border surge
White House approves deferred deportations for Venezuelans
The White House approved the deferral of deportations for some Venezuelans in an 11th hour decision before President Trump leaves office.
The White House said in a memo released Tuesday that it is approving Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) for Venezuelans. Recipients of the deferral will be able to live and work in the U.S., similar to those protected under a temporary protected status (TPS).
The memo hammered the government of Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro, accusing its corruption of producing "the worst humanitarian crisis in the Western Hemisphere in recent memory."
"A catastrophic economic crisis and shortages of basic goods and medicine have forced about five million Venezuelans to flee the country, often under dangerous conditions," the White House wrote in the memo.
"The deteriorative condition within Venezuela, which presents an ongoing national security threat to the safety and well-being of the American people, warrants the deferral of the removal of Venezuelan nationals who are present in the United States."
The new policy is a final swipe against the Maduro regime from the White House, which has recognized opposition leader Juan Guaidó as the interim president since 2019 following a 2018 presidential race that Maduro won but observers say was rife was fraud.
Maduro appeared to be only narrowly holding onto power after the election as an alarming humanitarian crisis, fueled by food and medicine shortages, worsened even further, and Western nations rallied around Guaidó. However, he was ultimately able to hold onto the presidency as enthusiasm among the opposition faded and international attention was focused elsewhere.
The new policy defers deportations for "any national of Venezuela, or alien without nationality who last habitually resided in Venezuela, who is present in the United States as of January 20, 2021."
Those not protected under the program include Venezuelans who have "voluntarily returned to Venezuela or their country of last habitual residence outside the United States;" have not continuously lived in the U.S.; have been convicted of a felony or two or more misdemeanors; are subject to extradition; the secretary of Homeland Security "has determined is not in the interest of the United States or presents a danger to public safety;" the secretary of State "has reasonable grounds to believe would have potentially serious adverse foreign policy consequences for the United States."
The move was met with applause from some Republican lawmakers who have long touted the need for the U.S. to take a stand against socialist dictatorships like Venezuela.
"We have a fundamental obligation to provide safe-haven for those fleeing tyranny and oppression. This act of solidarity provides our Venezuelan exile community with much-needed assurance during these unprecedented times," said Rep. María Elvira Salazar (R-Fla.). "I will never stop fighting for this just cause until Venezuela is freed from the murderous, socialist Maduro regime and is once again a vibrant, prosperous democracy that respects the rule of law."