Press Club

Statutes of Liberty: New Lawyer, New President, New Protections for Venezuelans

This sponsored column is by James Montana, Esq. and Doran Shemin, Esq., practicing attorneys at Steelyard LLC, an immigration-focused law firm located in Arlington, Virginia. The legal information given here is general in nature. If you want legal advice, contact James for an appointment.

The second-biggest immigration news item of the week was a surprise: The Trump Administration announced, on its last day of office, that Venezuelans in the United States on Jan. 20, 2021, are eligible for Deferred Enforced Departure.

Here are the facts about Deferred Enforced Departure for fellow citizens and for Venezuelans in the United States who may be eligible.

  1. Deferred Enforced Departure is similar to, but not the same as, Temporary Protected Status. If you receive Deferred Enforced Departure, you can obtain a work permit and temporary protection from deportation.
  2. Deferred Enforced Departure is not a substitute for asylum. Many Venezuelans in the United States have bona fide asylum claims. It is important to continue to pursue these claims.
  3. Deferred Enforced Departure does not offer a path to permanent residency or citizenship under current law. Note that asylum, if granted, does both of those things.
  4. Deferred Enforced Departure does not automatically come with a travel permit.
  5. Deferred Enforced Departure is an executive action. As such, it can be reversed by the new Biden administration, but we regard that as highly unlikely given the Biden administration’s pledge to preserve Temporary Protected Status.
  6. As of the publication of this article, the application process has not yet opened. Don’t pay a lawyer to apply for you until the process formally opens. If you need advice, we’re here to help — both directly and with referrals to nonprofits that can do this work, too.

The biggest immigration news of the week is that Laura Maria Lorenzo has joined our office as a practicing attorney. Laura is originally from Argentina and is licensed to practice law both in Argentina and the United States. She is fluent in Spanish and French, which will help our office serve many more clients in their native language, and her impressive tour through D.C.’s international financial institutions — the IMF, the World Bank and the Inter-American Development Bank — brings a new policy perspective to our office. We’re stoked. Watch for her to begin contributing to these columns soon!

Doran (L) and James (C) are happy to welcome Laura M. Lorenzo (R) to our immigration practice.

We welcome any comments and will do our best to respond.

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