The president of the Venezuelan-American Alliance and sponsor, along with her husband, of about 20 people through the Humanitarian Permit Program emphasized that it has reunited families and given them opportunities for a better life.
18,000 People Have Taken Advantage of the Humanitarian Permit Program in the US, Majority of Venezuelans
Representatives of pro-immigrant organizations in the United States on Tuesday rejected that the program that grants humanitarian visas to Cubans, Venezuelans, Haitians and Nicaraguans will be an economic burden for the receiving states, arguing that, on the contrary, it will be a contribution to public treasury.
The Florida director of the American Business Immigration Coalition, the Venezuelan Samuel Vílchez Santiago, described the so-called humanitarian “parole” as a “common sense solution” in favor of the nationals of these four countries that the administration of the President of the United States, Joe Biden, launched in early January.
“This program offers a way for immigrants to enter the labor force,” which is important in the current economic context and at a time when in the United States “labor is scarce in several sectors,” added Vílchez, one of the participants in a virtual teleconference organized by the Venezuela American Caucus.
The organization’s executive director, Adelys Ferro, alluded to studies that show that “a large number of these immigrants who obtain legal status come to fill jobs that have been vacant for months.”
“So for the receiving states, the help from an economic standpoint goes far beyond paying taxes,” she added.
“Our businesses desperately need these new workers. Economically, it’s the most sensible thing to do,” argued Vílchez, who said some 18,000 people have taken advantage of the program so far, with Venezuelans making up the majority.
Reunification of Venezuelan families
The United States announced on January 5 that it will accept more than 30,000 migrants per month from Venezuela, Cuba, Nicaragua and Haiti, expanding a program under which it has been granting humanitarian permits to Venezuelans since October.
To qualify for the program, which was the subject of a lawsuit filed by the attorneys general of 20 Republican states, applicants must meet certain requirements, including arriving by plane and having a sponsor in the United States who can support them financially.
“We see with pain how the program is being used as a political weapon by Republican leaders,” lamented María Antonieta Díaz, president of the Venezuelan American Alliance, who along with her husband has sponsored some 20 people through the program.
She pointed out that her experience has shown that “giving a person an opportunity has a positive and immense impact on the family members who remain in Venezuela and benefit from the remittances.”
In the case of Venezuela, a country where “a profound humanitarian crisis” has caused the exodus of 7.1 million people, one of the largest migrations of nationals of any country, Díaz emphasized that the program has reunited families and given them opportunities for a better life.
Cuban-American Ana Sofia Pelaez, the co-founder of the Miami Freedom Project, said the Republican prosecutors’ lawsuit “will only add more chaos and confusion to an already complex process.”
Vílchez and Maureen Porras, a councilwoman in the city of Doral, which is home to one of the largest Venezuelan diasporas in the United States, alluded to the decline in the number of irregular immigrants from those four countries, which fell by more than 90 percent in January compared to December.
The program “has saved lives by preventing people from making a potentially deadly journey,” said Porras, also an immigration lawyer, referring to the routes taken by migrants to cross the southern border of the United States.
In early January, President Biden also announced that his country would return nationals from Nicaragua, Cuba and Haiti to Mexico, expanding the use of a controversial rule called Title 42, inherited from now-former President Donald Trump (2017-2021), a measure that could also explain the decline in the irregular arrival of these immigrants.
Tessa Petit, executive director of the Florida Immigrant Coalition, said that although the program is “not perfect,” it is “good news for Haitians,” who have migrated in greater numbers to the United States in recent years, especially to Florida.
Ferro, of the Venezuelan American Caucus, emphasized that it is false that those who come to the United States through this humanitarian program receive financial assistance from the government, while Diaz, of the Venezuelan American Alliance, said that those who take advantage of social assistance programs are in the minority.