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Venezuelans living in Florida hope for extension of protection status

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Posted at 9:59 PM, Jul 10, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-11 05:26:00-04

TAMPA, Fla. — Hundreds of thousands of Venezuelans living in the U.S., including many in Florida, are waiting to see what the Biden administration will do when it comes to their temporary protected status.

A decision must come by tomorrow.

About 250,000 Venezuelans are under that protected status in the U.S.

Many fled to America to escape political turmoil and a humanitarian crisis going on in Venezuela.

Estefania Pirela was 15 when she and her mother left Venezuela for America.

Her mother’s involvement in protesting the government put them both in danger.

“She was threatened. We had military show up to our house. During my life. Her life. Even showing up to my school at the time,” said Pirela.

There are many Venezuelans who came to the U.S. seeking political asylum and they've been able to stay here under what’s called temporary protected status.

Now the Biden Administration is set to decide whether to extend that status even longer.

Tampa Immigration attorney Ahmad Yakzan said about 90% of his clients are from Venezuela.

"It's a police state. I mean they come and get you. There is a paramilitary troop in Venezuela. They are called Chavaistas that Chavez started arming when he was in power in the early 2000s,” said Yakzan.

Meanwhile, Estefania said she is thriving in the U.S.

She and her mother are now both citizens, and she is working with Yakzan at the American Dream Law Office helping others seeking asylum.

“I have just been very grateful for this country and all the opportunities I have been given,” said Pirela.

Florida gubernatorial candidates Charlie Crist and Nikki Fried both asked the Biden administration to extend the protected status which is currently good until September.