MIAMI – The opportunity for Venezuelans to escape the turmoil and live a better life in America is in potential legal jeopardy. The Biden administration must extend its temporary protected status for Venezuelans by July 11.
CBS4 spoke with a Venezuelan woman living in South Florida about the harsh realities in her home country and how local leaders look to help.
Virginia walked with Joe Gorchow down a street in Miami as she shares why she had to flee Venezuela.
"The risk we had in Venezuela and for me was grave," said Virginia.
Virginia lost a local election running for office in her home nation. She says President Nicolas Maduro's regime punishes those who think differently.
"Their reaction is to attack whoever opposes them," shared Virginia. "And this time was no different."
So, Virginia left her family behind and came to South Florida last year. She keeps moving forward for her family, which she misses dearly.
"They still live in a difficult situation in Venezuela, which worsens daily," added Virginia.
She hopes to be an American citizen one day soon.
While she waits, leaders in Florida aim to extend the Biden administration's temporary protected status for Venezuelans.
"Responsibility to ensure those fleeing oppressive regimes do not live in the shadows," said Florida State Sen. Annette Taddeo.
Taddeo held a roundtable discussing the urgent need to renew and redesignate TPS for Venezuelans. It allows migrants to live and work in America legally.
She and members of the state legislature sent this letter to the White House asking for this on July 5.
The letter closed by saying, "to continue to provide the much-needed support and safety to displaced Venezuelans seeking a better life."
The deadline for the White House to act is July 11.
In the meeting with Taddeo was Adelys Ferro. She is the executive director of the Venezuelan American Caucus.
Ferro immigrated legally to the U.S. in 2007 to find a better life for herself and her son.
"Opportunity to live with democracy and freedom," said Ferro. "We were right."
Ferro says there are more asylum-seeking immigrants in America from Venezuela than from any other nation.
"You are living in extreme poverty," said Ferro about Venezuela. "No food. No money. If you get sick, you are dead."
And that's why leaders in Florida work to provide an opportunity for those escaping turmoil.
"They will give back two times more than anything we could ever give them," added Taddeo.
The International Organization for Migration says more than 6 million refugees and migrants have left Venezuela due to the political turmoil and humanitarian crisis, calling it the "largest external displacement crisis in Latin America's recent history."
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