Former President Donald Trump on Tuesday announced he will offer Venezuelan exiles protection from deportation, a move he has considered for years but refused to do until his last full day in office.
Trump is using the little-known Deferred Enforced Departure program, or DED, to offer temporary legal status to Venezuelans fleeing the humanitarian crisis brought on by Nicolás Maduro’s regime. DED, similar to Temporary Protected Status or TPS, protects recipients from deportation and allows them to get work permits. However, it is granted directly by the president instead of the Department of Homeland Security.
“The deteriorative condition within Venezuela, which presents an ongoing national security threat to the safety and well-being of the American people, warrants the deferral of the removal of Venezuelan nationals who are present in the United States,” Trump said in a memorandum released Tuesday.
Based on Trump’s memo, the U.S. will defer for 18 months the removal of certain Venezuelan nationals present in the U.S. on Jan. 20. It also allows those Venezuelans to work during that period of time.
Last year, the State Department had considered using DED to protect Venezuelans, but talks stalled over resistance to including relief for exiles in Trump’s Venezuela strategy. The outgoing president’s strategy centered around sanctions to put maximum pressure on the Maduro regime.
The move to use DED instead of TPS stems from a long-standing concern from some Republicans that TPS will eventually become a path to permanent residency in the United States. Deferred Enforced Departure is designated by the president and gives the chief executive the ability to end it without as many procedural hurdles.
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