The Department of Homeland Security on Thursday announced it will be granting deportation protections and work permits to thousands of Afghan nationals who arrived in the last year – including those who crossed illegally at the southern border – a day after it made a similar announcement for nationals from Venezuela.
DHS announced it will be both extending and redesignating Afghanistan for Temporary Protected Status – which shields nationals already in the country from deportation and allows them to apply for work permits due to conditions in their home country.
The designation is typically based on conditions in the designated country and is based on three grounds: armed ongoing conflict, environmental disasters or “extraordinary and temporary conditions.” Officials cited conditions including armed conflict in Afghanistan, where the Taliban has retaken control.
“Today’s announcement to extend and redesignate TPS for Afghanistan allows us to continue to offer safety and protection to Afghan nationals who are unable to return to their country,” DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said in a statement. “DHS will continue to support Afghan nationals through this temporary form of humanitarian relief.”
Extending TPS means that the estimated 3,100 already protected by prior designations are granted additional benefits until May 2025. The redesignation opens up to new applicants who arrived between March 2022 and Wednesday. DHS estimates it will open the program up to 14,600 additional Afghans.
Afghans who were paroled into the United States as part of the evacuation from Afghanistan in 2021 can technically apply for TPS, but DHS said it encourages them to seek “more durable immigration pathways” for which they may be eligible than the more limited TPS.
The move comes a day after a broader re-designation of Venezuela for TPS on Wednesday, which affects a much larger population of around 472,000 Venezuelans with a cut-off date of July 31 for eligibility.
The re-designation of Venezuela had been called for by officials in New York and elsewhere, who have been overwhelmed with a surge of migrants who have traveled to those jurisdictions and are unable to work. It came hours after thousands of Venezuelans surged into Eagle Pass, Texas — although the designation will not directly affect them.
The southern has been seeing rapidly increasing numbers of migrants arriving at the southern border from countries across the globe – with immigration activists pushing for additional TPS designations and re-designations to prevent deportations and allow them to work.
“We encourage the Biden administration to continue granting TPS designations to vulnerable populations amid unprecedented and ongoing global displacement,” Krish O’Mara Vignarajah, President and CEO of Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service, said in a statement. “As we’ve witnessed with Venezuelans, Ukrainians and other groups, TPS is a valuable tool to help stabilize those hoping to rebuild their lives in the U.S. and expand protection for people unable to return to their home countries.”
But conservatives say the TPS authority, which was authorized by Congress in the 1990s, has been abused and has become distorted from its initial intent and is now anything but temporary.
“I can’t remember a time when a Democratic administration terminated a TPS determination,” Lora Ries, Director of the Border Security and Immigration Center at The Heritage Foundation, told Fox News Digital on Thursday. “The Trump administration terminated some TPS programs and the Left sued to keep them going. The Biden Administration is now up to TPS for 16 countries, many of which also have their own mass parole program.”
“And all receive what they really want – work authorization,” she said. “It’s past time for Congress to take back its authority to determine who is authorized to work & narrow parole and TPS statutory text to align with Congress’ original intent.
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