CHICAGO — Hundreds of thousands of migrants will soon be able to legally work in the United States.
President Joe Biden’s administration is granting temporary protective status to more than 470,000 Venezuelan migrants across the country, which will allow them to secure authorization to legally work in the US.
The move comes in addition to more than 240,000 Venezuelan migrants who already qualified for temporary protective status before the announcement.
According to a City of Chicago database, a majority of the more than 13,000 asylum seekers in Chicago are from Venezuela, and city officials have stated that work permits would be helpful in freeing up space in shelters and helping migrants move out of unsuitable living conditions.
Those living in Chicago said they are glad to hear the news, but many wish it applied to a larger group of asylum seekers.
“We believe that immigrants should be able to come to the U.S. and should be able to apply for a work permit and should be able to provide for their families,” said Erendira Rendon, vice president of Immigrant Justice at the Resurrection Project.
A provision of the temporary protective status is that it only applies to Venezuelan migrants who arrived on or before July 31.
Migrants like Julianni Ramirez and Claudia Rueda, who arrived in the United States recently, are frustrated they don’t qualify because they are ready to provide for their families.
“I am without a job,” Ramirez said. “My husband and I have a four-year-old and we want to work so I can pay rent, eat better and be able to look out for my kid.”
“I have two children and my husband,” Rueda added. “I came here. I have nothing and we would like to have a chance to work, so we can get ahead.”
Those who arrived on or before the July 31 deadline though, are eager to contribute to the United States workforce.
“We are all unemployed and by being unemployed we are useless in your country,” said Brian, a migrant at the Chicago Police Department’s 20th District police station. “If they gave us a permit to work, it would be a lot better to get ahead — and not only for you to support us — but we would support you in return.”
U.S. Rep. Delia Ramirez (3rd) issued a statement Thursday that said in part, “As our nation faces a labor shortage and our sanctuary cities await proper resources to keep providing much-needed refuge and services, these steps help us rise to meet the needs of migrants seeking asylum.”