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After U.S. offers migrants work permits, Chicago activists call for more action

After Venezuelan migrants offered work permits, Chicago activists call for more action
After Venezuelan migrants offered work permits, Chicago activists call for more action 02:33

CHICAGO (CBS) – From the mayor to the governor, officials across Illinois praised President Joe Biden's decision to grant temporary protective status to newly arrived Venezuelan migrants.

The move will give them a fast track to work legally.

While the news was welcomed, immigration advocates said there's still more work left to do. CBS 2's Andrew Ramos had more on the local reaction.

After months of sounding the alarm over the ongoing migrant crisis that has overwhelmed city agencies, some temporary relief is in sight.

The Biden administration announced it will grant nearly half a million Venezuelan migrants temporary protective status, which will allow them to live and work in the U.S. legally for up to 18 months.

Those eligible would have to have arrived before July 31.

Cities like Chicago have long pleaded for federal help as the flow of migrants being sent from the border has inundated local resources.

With Venezuelans accounting for more than one-third of the 14,000 migrants in Chicago, the expectation is the administration's announcement will lessen the pressure on the city and allow migrants to be less dependent by applying for temporary permits and bypassing the 180-day waiting period.

While advocates thanked the president, they said the move provides an opportunity to do more.

"It is time we deserve work permits too," said Ere Rendon, of the Resurrection Project. "We have families too!"

Immigrant leaders with the Resurrection Project and several elected officials called on the Biden administration to level the playing field and grant parole and permanent work authorization for all immigrants, including the more than 11 million undocumented immigrants in the country.

"He could do this with a stroke of a pen," said Emma Lozano, of the Lincoln United Methodist Church. "We've seen it, and we demand that he do this for our families now."

Ald. Byron Sigcho-Lopez (25th) said the move was "the beginning of our fight for every single one of those 11 million people, dreamers, people who have been waiting for decades and generations. Today is the time."

Former congressman Luis Gutierrez went a step further and called for a day of action on Nov. 14 where he will be part of a coalition of thousands gathering in Washington, D.C. to ask the president to issue permanent work permits for millions of immigrants who remain exposed to forced removal.

"They've been here 35, 40 years. We didn't do anything about it so now it's not their fault anymore," Gutierrez said.

It's too early to tell what immediate impact, if any, the new temporary protective status designation for Venezuelans will have for the city, as many of them still have to sign up and then wait to be approved.

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