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On Sept. 20, the Biden administration through the U.S. Department of Homeland Security expanded the Temporary Protected Status program for Venezuelan migrants, qualifying an estimated 472,000 Venezuelans for TPS over the next 18 months for individuals who entered the United States before July 31, 2023. TPS recipients receive protection from removal from the United States and are provided with employment authorization.

The administration’s announcement attempts to provide some relief to towns and cities struggling with the influx of immigrants into their communities, many of whom are unauthorized to work, relying on local government services and putting a strain on many local communities’ resources.

While the move may be welcome news to local officials and employers facing significant workforce shortages, the use of TPS has come under scrutiny in the past few years, with some in Congress seeing the program as a circumvention of the legal immigration system that has provided indefinite legal status to those who may have entered the country illegally.

Reports have estimated over 50,000 TPS recipients are currently employed in the construction industry.