Scorpions, the greatest rock band of all time, wrote a song about New York City at the beginning of the 80s, appropriately titled “The Zoo.” New York City has always prided itself on being the most chaotic and unbridled city in America, perhaps the world. Now, it has upped its game, becoming the center of the US immigration circus with a new Venezuelan twist.
Almost half a million Venezuelans currently in the U.S. who do not have legal status are eligible to obtain Temporary Protected Status (TPS) based on the renewal of their TPS designation. The supposed justification for this is the U.S. government’s goal to stem the tide of illegal immigration, as also demonstrated by the Humanitarian Parole program that also includes Venezuelans, who can be sponsored by U.S. citizen sponsors to be paroled into the U.S. Both programs allow Venezuelans to be protected from deportation (unless they commit a deportable offense) and to obtain work authorization.
New York City Mayor Eric Adams was thrust into the maelstrom of the U.S. immigration debate because New York became the epicenter of the new immigrant earthquake, whose tremors and aftershocks are perpetuated by the 24-hour news cycle. He then fanned the flames by calling out President Biden and asking for his help absorbing and assisting a massive influx of illegal immigrants, more than 100,000 of whom are from Venezuela. Mayor Adams is not, in my estimation, equipped to run the most chaotic city in America. His flip-flopping stance on immigration and his kowtowing to political pressures from his constituents, combined with his love for media attention, has helped lead to a chaotic situation in which Republican governors use State funds to bus thousands of immigrants to NYC.
Now, all Venezuelans who were physically present in the U.S. before July 31, 2023, are eligible for government protection and work authorization, while people from many other war-torn and troubled nations do not receive a handout from the U.S. government. New York City has always positioned itself as the supposed center of the U.S.. When it comes to immigration, Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty represent its identity of being the heart of US immigration in general, as well as the “Outer Boroughs”, i.e. Queens, Brooklyn, the Bronx, and Staten Island, which have more immigrant residents than non-immigrants.
I have practiced immigration law for over two decades, and I was an immigrant growing up in New York City, so I consider myself an authority on both. I can say, given this new Venezuelan-flavored ingredient and the immigration chaos that we are immersed in, that New York City’s Zoo-like status has reached its highest chaos level ever.