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Protesters gather outside Staten Island asylum seeker shelter

Biden announces protection for Venezuelan migrants; protesters return to SI
Biden announces protection for Venezuelan migrants; protesters return to SI 03:04

NEW YORK -- For a second night, dozens of protesters rallied outside the Island Shores Senior Center on Staten Island, which is now housing 15 asylum-seeking families.

Bringing signs that read "America first," protesters said they do not want the city to send asylum-seeking families to the residential neighborhood.

"We should be helping our own people first," protester Lucia Mascolo said.  

Wednesday's demonstration was tame compared to a night earlier when 10 people were arrested, including for assaulting a police officer.

"I think everyone's really angry. The migrant crisis has reached apocalyptic proportions, financially, for our city," New York City Councilman David Carr said.

"Staten Island only has 2 percent of the asylum seekers, and as you can see, other boroughs are doing their best to ensure that they continue supporting and being a welcoming borough," said Yesenia Mata, executive director of the immigrants rights nonprofit La Colmena.

A spokesman for the mayor's office said prior to moving in these asylum-seeking families, the senior center had sat vacant for over a year.

Biden administration announces temporary protected status for Venezuelans

As they rallied Wednesday, the Biden administration announced it will grant temporary protected status (TPS) to Venezuelans who came to the United States before July 31 of this year. That will expedite work authorization for about 472,000 Venezuelans seeking asylum in the U.S., including up to 60,000 Venezuelans who have come to New York in the past year.

This decision from the White House is a major win for Mayor Eric Adams, who has been pushing the president to expedite work authorizations for asylum seekers that would allow them to legally find work.

"The president is finally taking actions that could have been taken more than a year ago," Congressman Ritchie Torres said.

Torres says the move is far from a silver bullet. 

"Because the backlog of TPS applications is so overwhelming that the average processing time is about 13 months. And so in order for work authorization to be granted immediately, the president's going to have to prioritize Venezuelan migrants from New York City," Torres said.

Mayor Eric Adams reacts to Biden administration's decision

The mayor spoke to CBS New York about the news Wednesday night.

"We have more to do. It's really, I think that it's good to see that the White House heard the calls from this administration and our Congressional delegation and the governor to state that we must really come up with a real solution, but this is, we can't spike the ball, but we do have to acknowledge that our voices were heard," Adams said.

Listen to the mayor's full interview with CBS New York

Mayor Adams reacts to Biden administration's asylum seeker announcement 07:12

The mayor added, "We see what's being played out on the streets of our city. There's a lot of anger. We don't want that anger to be misdirected. The asylum seekers want to work. They want to contribute to the American Dream, and we need to find a pathway to do so."

Adams says the effects will not be immediate.

"Part of the process is to get these applications processed and move forward ... There's still a process of filing for it, but it's a long way from having to wait months for the 15,000. I want to be clear on that. We have 60,000 in our care, 10,000 coming per month. We're going to be able to give this to 15,000 of those who are in our care," he said.

The mayor also released the following statement:

"More than 116,000 asylum seekers have come to New York City since last spring in search of the American Dream. Our administration and our partners across the city have led the calls to 'Let Them Work,' so I want to thank President Biden for hearing our entire coalition, including our hard-working congressional delegation, and taking this important step that will bring hope to the thousands of Venezuelan asylum seekers currently in our care who will now be immediately eligible for Temporary Protected Status. I personally spoke to the White House tonight to hear about this development and express my gratitude and support for this important decision that we have we have been advocating for since April.

"I am hopeful that we can continue to partner with President Biden to extend Temporary Protected Status to the tens of thousands of other migrants still in our care from other countries. And I look forward to continued work with our state and federal partners to deliver relief for asylum seekers and longtime New Yorkers with a national decompression strategy and expedited work authorizations so those entering our city and our country can provide for themselves and finally have a shot at living out the American Dream."

Gov. Kathy Hochul also released a statement:

"After my productive conversation with President Biden last night, I'm grateful the federal government has acted so speedily to grant one of our top priorities: providing Temporary Protected Status to Venezuelan asylum seekers and migrants who have already arrived in this country. There's more work to do as we address this crisis, but the State of New York is prepared to immediately begin the process of signing people up for work authorization and getting them into jobs so they can become self-sufficient." 

The hope is that migrants will be able to more quickly work their way out of the shelter system, but some Republicans have argued that could encourage more people to cross the border.

"The mayor and the governor should be turning the buses around. The only way to end our engagement in this crisis is to end it, and by continuing to say we have capacity, finding new shelters, finding more beds, providing food, health care, enrollment in schools, you're creating a major incentive for folks to come here from the southern border rather than going to other places in the U.S.," Carr said.  

Hours earlier, Hochul had urged Republicans to step up.

"Republicans from New York state ought to be on the phone or walk into the office of Speaker McCarthy and say, 'Our state needs help,'" she said.

Just this week, tens of thousands of migrants have crossed the U.S. border.

The influx prompted one Texas mayor to sign an emergency declaration, while in Arizona hundreds of migrants were detained, some in makeshift cages.

Angie Ortiz fled with her two children from Venezuela to El Paso, crossing the Darien Gap; that's the dangerous stretch of jungle between Colombia and Panama where an estimated 380,000 people have crossed so far this year.

In Spanish, she told CBS News' Manuel Bojorquez she is only able to feed her children one meal per day.

For Ortiz, this temporary protected status would only apply to her if she came to the U.S. before July 31.

Here in New York, Hochul said the state is prepared to immediately begin signing people up for work authorization and get them into jobs.

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