NEW YORK – A Catholic organization focused on immigration law and advocacy supports the Biden Administration’s Temporary Protected Status (TPS) extension for Venezuelan migrants, calling the decision “an answered prayer” for those who qualify.

“This is welcome and relieving news indeed,” Anna Gallagher, executive director of the Catholic Legal Immigration Network (CLINIC) said in a Sept. 21 statement.

“This temporary protection will be an answered prayer for thousands of Venezuelan men, women, and children who have fled dangerous and unstable conditions in their home country in search of a safe and dignified life,” Gallagher said.

Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas announced the TPS extension on Sept. 20, saying the move was “due to the extraordinary and temporary conditions in Venezuela that prevent individuals from safely returning.”

A statement from the Department of Homeland Security said that after reviewing the country conditions in Venezuela and consulting with interagency partners, Mayorkas decided that an 18-month extension and redesignation was warranted “based on Venezuela’s increased instability and lack of safety due to the enduring humanitarian, security, political, and environmental conditions.”

Venezuelan migrants who arrived in the United States before July 31, 2023, are eligible for the TPS. The redesignation provides temporary protection from removal, as well as employment authorization.

According to the Department of Homeland Security, there are currently approximately 242,700 TPS beneficiaries under Venezuela’s existing TPS designation. There are an additional approximately 472,000 nationals of Venezuela who may be eligible under the redesignation, the department states.

“Temporary protected status provides individuals already present in the United States with protection from removal when the conditions in their home country prevent their safe return,” Mayorkas said in a Sept. 20 statement. “That is the situation that Venezuelans who arrived here on or before July 31 of this year find themselves in.”

The secretary made clear, however, that Venezuelans who arrived in the U.S. after July 31, 2023, are not eligible for TPS protection, and will be removed from the country if they are found to not have a legal basis to stay.

The Biden administration’s decision answers the call of a number of Democrats who have advocated for extended work access for migrants, especially in New York, where leaders have been vocal about the strain the migrant crisis has put on city resources.

In a statement, New York City Mayor Eric Adams noted that more than 116,000 migrants have come to the city since last spring.

“I am hopeful that we can continue to partner with President Biden to extend Temporary Protected Status to the tens of thousands of other migrants in our care from other countries,” Adams said in a Sept. 20 statement.

“I look forward to continued work with our state and federal partners to deliver relief for asylum seekers and longtime New Yorkers with a national decompression strategy and expedited work authorizations so those entering our city and our country can provide for themselves and finally have a shot at living out the American Dream,” he said.

Karen Sullivan, director of advocacy at CLINIC said in a statement that the hope going forward is migrants from other countries will receive a similar opportunity to work and live in the U.S. Sullivan advocated for migrants from the Democratic Republic of the Congo to also receive protection status.

There are currently 16 countries with TPS designations in the U.S.: Afghanistan, Burma, Cameroon, El Salvador, Ethiopia, Haiti, Honduras, Nepal, Nicaragua, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Syria, Ukraine, Venezuela, and Yemen. Data from earlier this year compiled by the Pew Research Center found that there are about 672,200 TPS recipients in the U.S.

“TPS is a policy tool designed for situations just like the one facing Venezuelans, who cannot return safely to their home country,” Sullivan said. “We will continue to pray and act for the citizens of other countries who are in need of similar protection, such as the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Cameroon.”

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