For years thousands of Venezuelans without legal status in the United States waited for some kind of immigration relief. Now that it has finally reached them, they receive it with cautious optimism and confusion. Instead of celebrating, many feel uncertain.
Venezuelans were included in a decree that former President Donald Trump issued hours before leaving the White House and that suspends your deportation, but they have doubts because the magnate is no longer the president and the information in the document is little.
“It is too early to celebrate, we do not know the details,” complained Mariana Molero, a Venezuelan who arrived in the United States with her husband in 2005 and since then has not been able to regularize her legal status. Both she and her husband have a deportation order.
Wouldn’t they be more protected if new President Joe Biden follows through on his promise to grant them temporary legal status? It is the question that many are asking.
Before leaving the White House, Donald Trump surprisingly suspended the deportations of Venezuelan immigrants with a decree. Photo: AFP
Hours before ending his presidency, Trump ordered the deportation of Venezuelans who fled their country to be suspended for 18 months and did not get political asylum or legal status in the United States. The measure, which according to some activists would benefit about 200,000 people who fled the crisis in the Caribbean country, also authorizes them to apply for a work permit.
However, it will have to be implemented by the Biden administration, a strong critic of Trump, whom he defeated at the polls. It is also a little-used mechanism, which also left some lawyers puzzled, who are waiting for more specific guidelines.
“Everyone is confused,” immigration attorney Adriana Kostencki said of Trump’s move. “It is recommended to wait and see how the immigration authorities implement it,” he added, after ensuring that he does not doubt that since the decree was issued on Tuesday, Venezuelans can no longer be expelled.
Joe Biden’s stance
Biden, in turn, has promised Venezuelans temporary protected status. known as TPS, which in addition to authorizing them to work in some cases could pave the way to a residence, unlike Trump’s decree.
The new president also decreed a 100-day curb on the deportation of immigrants who are in the country illegally, including Venezuelans, and is encouraging an immigration reform plan that should be approved by Congress.
The White House did not immediately respond to questions from The Associated Press about how they will implement Trump’s decree or whether they will issue more details.
Joe Biden is pushing for broad immigration reform, but it is unclear what will happen to undocumented Venezuelans in the United States. Photo: AP
Venezuela has been immense for years in a deep political, economic and social crisis that has caused the departure of more than five million people to other countries, according to United Nations estimates.
Some 400,000 Venezuelans live in the United States, and about 192,000 of them do not have legal status. according to the Center for Migration Studies in New York.
Molero, a lawyer who came to the United States on a tourist visa and lives in southern Florida, fears that Trump’s move will not benefit her or her husband, despite the fact that they both have deportation orders.
“There is discrepancy in how it is interpreted,” said this woman, mother of two boys born in the United States. “There is uncertainty … Instead of reassuring myself, I must wait for the TPS to be clarified or signed,” he said.
In New York, Kamal Morales is encouraged by Trump’s “gift.”
“Nobody expected it, that at the last minute (Trump) could do something for us Venezuelans,” said this 35-year-old migrant who crossed the border with the United States from Mexico in March 2019. “The decree is a relief for me I have more time to acquire or obtain some status then, “he said.
However, Morales is also confused and wonders if his deportation would really be lifted.
A hairdresser by profession, Morales arrived in the United States in 2019 and was released in January 2020 from a detention center in Colorado. Now a deportation order hangs over him. He is exploring his options with attorneys but must report to the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency in August. His request for asylum, made while in detention, was denied.
Expelled and detained
Almost 900 Venezuelans have been deported since 2018, about 200 of them in the last year, according to the Immigration and Customs Police, known as ICE by its English name. Some 233 remain in detention.
About 11,000 are in deportation proceedings, according to the database of the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse, a research group at Syracuse University in New York.
Of the 8,676 asylum cases Venezuelans have in the United States, 832 were denied in fiscal year 2020, according to TRAC.
Carlos Vecchio, whom the opposition leader Juan Guaidó appointed as Venezuela’s ambassador and was recognized as such by this country, wants to bring peace of mind to his community.
“These are positive measures that are going to impact Venezuelans,” Vecchio said in a recent telephone interview with the AP agency, in which he noted that the priority is Venezuelan prisoners.
He said his team has already contacted the Biden administration to see how they implement the Trump decree, and that he also hopes that TPS will be approved soon.
“What we have heard benefits them, and what is to come is better,” he said after noting that the new Democratic president knows the situation in Venezuela well and “has a great opportunity” to promote change in Venezuela.
By Gisela Salomon and Claudia Torrens, The Associated Press