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Hochul says 150 National Guard troops will help Venezuelan migrants get their work permits

Gov. Kathy Hochul meets Sept. 25, 2023, with leaders of New York's National Guard on expediting temporary work permits to migrants in the state.
Susan Watts
Office of Gov. Kathy Hochul
Gov. Kathy Hochul meets Sept. 25, 2023, with leaders of New York's National Guard on expediting temporary work permits to migrants in the state.

Gov. Kathy Hochul said Monday that 150 additional National Guard members will be deployed to assist with New York state’s migrant crisis.

This time, they’ll be helping to process work permits for Venezuelan asylum-seekers who recently were granted the right to apply for jobs in the next 30 days.

On Sept. 20, President Joe Biden authorized Temporary Protected Status for Venezuelan migrants who entered the U.S. before July 31. That gives them the right to apply for jobs and obtain work in as soon as a month.

Hochul said the additional 150 National Guard troops, which brings the total number deployed to 2,200, will focus on helping the asylum-seekers complete the necessary paperwork to get them employed and out of overcrowded temporary shelters.

“(They’ll) be helping them get a job,” Hochul said. “Helping them support themselves, helping them leave these shelters. Because I believe they did not come all these thousands of miles to live in a shelter with hundreds, if not thousands, of others.”

Hochul said the state is investing an additional $50 million to help the migrants with the paperwork. And she said it’s much easier than the more onerous process of applying for asylum status, which requires numerous documents and filling out complex forms. She said the new form asks just a few key questions.

“I literally went on to the app myself and clicked it on to see how hard it would be,” said Hochul, who added the questions are limited to whether the person is from Venezuela and entered the country before August.

“The next step is that you're now automatically qualified for work authorization,” she said.

The work permit form is then delivered in 30 days.

Many of the state’s industries, including farming, health care and food service, are experiencing worker shortages. Hochul said she hopes the Venezuelan migrants can help mitigate that.

Jackie Bray, the commissioner of the New York State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services, predicted that “many thousands” of the migrants will get jobs, but she can’t say for sure yet exactly how many.

“There is not a single database at this time that the city and the state can access,” Bray said. “But there is robust information-sharing about what they're seeing at the front door, and how many people are moving on, so that we can adjust our resources and make sure that we're targeting appropriately.”

Hochul had been asking the Biden administration for months to grant the temporary work permits for the Venezuelans. She said she’d like all asylum-seekers to be eligible to work within 30 days, saying it would be a “huge salvation.”

Karen DeWitt is Capitol Bureau chief for New York State Public Radio, a network of public radio stations in New York state. She has covered state government and politics for the network since 1990.