Trump orders 18-month halt to removal of Venezuelans from the U.S

FILE PHOTO: U.S. President Donald Trump delivers remarks at his hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S., October 28, 2020. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump on Tuesday ordered a halt to removal of certain Venezuelans from the United States for 18 months, citing conditions in the South American country.

“The deteriorative condition within Venezuela, which presents an ongoing national security threat to the safety and well-being of the American people, warrants the deferral of the removal of Venezuelan nationals who are present in the United States,” Trump, on the eve of leaving the White House, said in a memo to secretaries of state and homeland security.

Some Venezuelans, including those who have committed a felony, are exempted from the order.

U.S. President-elect Joe Biden said in late October that he would “immediately” grant humanitarian protections to Venezuelans living in the United States, which would allow them to remain in the country and obtain work permits.

The Pew Research Center think tank estimated there were 130,000 Venezuelans living illegally in the United States in 2017.

Reporting by Mohammad Zargham, Ted Hesson and Kristina Cooke; Editing by Himani Sarkar & Shri Navaratnam