The Biden administration said Wednesday it will offer temporary legal status to more than 470,000 Venezuelan migrants in the United States, announcing the move as U.S. authorities struggle to contend with a new border influx in Texas that has stretched holding capacity to the brink.

Biden officials told reporters that Venezuelans who entered the United States by July 31 would be eligible for temporary protected status, a designation that will shield them from deportation and speed up their ability to obtain U.S. work permits.

Officials in New York, Chicago and other northern U.S. cities where migrants have strained shelter capacity and social services have been urging Biden to expedite the work permits so newcomers can support themselves.

More than 6 million Venezuelans have left the country during a decade of political and economic turmoil in their homeland.

“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,” Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said in a statement.

Republican critics of the president’s border policies say the administration’s expanded use of temporary protected status incentivizes illegal crossings.


During a call with reporters, Biden officials said they would also fast track work permits for other newcomers and expand a conditional release program for families that uses GPS monitoring and curfews for migrants awaiting a decision on their asylum claims.

Even as the administration announced steps to deal with the strains of the migrant influx on U.S. cities, they faced a fresh wave of newcomers along the southern border where illegal crossings have soared to their highest levels since May.

Migrants riding freight trains and crossing the U.S. southern border by the thousands have stretched U.S. agents and detention capacity to the brink in recent days, creating a new emergency that is swamping Biden official’s latest efforts to curb illegal crossings.

More than 4,000 migrants, mostly Venezuelan men, have streamed across the Rio Grande into Eagle Pass, Texas, since Tuesday to surrender to U.S. authorities, the first step in seeking asylum. With U.S. holding cells maxed out and daytime temperatures topping 100 degrees, border agents packed the men into the shade of the international bridge and suspended truck and vehicle processing at two border crossings.

Eagle Pass Mayor Rolando Salinas, a Democrat, declared a state of emergency.

Many of the migrants arriving in Texas are being quickly processed and released into the United States, because border facilities are at full capacity and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention facilities are 95 percent full, according to three Homeland Security officials who were not authorized to speak with reporters.


In the Mexican border city of Ciudad Juárez, crowds of dust-covered families climbed out of rail cars and headed for the gates in the U.S. border wall, urging U.S. agents to allow them in.

The Biden administration has urged migrants traveling through Mexico to make an appointment to seek asylum at the U.S. border through a mobile app, CBP One.

But Venezuelans arriving to Ciudad Juárez on Wednesday said relatives who recently crossed told them they didn’t need to bother waiting.

“What is the point of the CBP appointment? My brother surrendered and he got through. We know too many stories of people who got through without an appointment,” said Yonder Linarez, 28, who was traveling with 10 members of his extended family.

Linarez said he planned to cross the border and turn himself in to U.S. agents Wednesday evening at the border wall.

“We tried it but it took too long,” he said. “If we’ve endured the jungle, robbery and everything else, to get here you think not having an appointment is going to stop us?”

Linarez said he was part of a group of nearly 1,000 migrants who rode atop a train for three days from Mexico City to the U.S. border.

Texas Republican Gov. Greg Abbott said the Biden administration had removed concertina wire in Eagle Pass placed by the state, a decision he likened to “opening the floodgates to illegal immigration.” Under U.S. law, migrants have the right to request asylum once they arrive on U.S. soil, and U.S. border agents have sometimes cleared razor wire.

“I immediately deployed more Texas National Guard to repel illegal crossings & install more razor wire,” Abbott wrote on X (formerly Twitter).

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