The Venezuelans left in limbo by new US immigration plan say they face deportation
By Laura Smith
February 24, 2018 | 4:06 PM
Laura Smith / Laura Smith
After being stranded by the United States’ decision to revoke Temporary Protected Status, Venezuelans in the U.S. have found a new way to challenge the decision in federal court.
Last summer, President Donald Trump announced that the United States would end the extension of temporary protected status to all 11 million residents of South America — including Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands — who had been granted protection when Venezuela’s financial, health and security crises hit the country in 2014.
“The administration’s decision to terminate TPS for all other countries in the Western Hemisphere is outrageous to say the least,” Venezuelan Ambassador Jorge Eliecer Gagnier said in a statement last month.
In the aftermath of the termination of TPS, U.S. citizens who have been legally residing in the U.S. for more than three years could face deportation for failing to renew their residency status.
But as of January, the number of undocumented Venezuelan immigrants in the U.S. had grown from nearly 5,000 to 16,000, according to data from the Department of Homeland Security. Some of the new arrivals say their permanent residency is in jeopardy.
“There was no indication at the time of TPS that you would go to the United States and be immediately deported. Why is this happening now?” asked Yudel Estrada, a Miami-based attorney representing three undocumented Venezuelan immigrants who have applied for legal residency or for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, the Obama-era program that allows undocumented young people who came to the U.S. as children to be granted temporary legal status.
Trump and his predecessors, in other words, did not always understand the human cost of America’s immigration policy, she said. “When we talk to people, when we write letters, we see that there are these massive effects,” Estrada said. “What was happening was that the U.S. was not able to address the underlying issues that