TAMPA — Hernan Lugo-Galicia had just a few hours to get out of Venezuela.
A journalist who reported on government corruption for the newspaper El Nacional, Lugo-Galicia received word in November 2017 that the government would no longer tolerate his exposés.
“They wanted to silence me and to stop me from doing my job, but I refused,” said Lugo-Galicia, 52, former secretary of the National College of Journalists of Venezuela. “And I paid dearly.”
Lugo-Galicia bought a ticket from Caracas to Miami, applied for asylum, and soon found his way to Tampa to await word on his application.
He’s still waiting. And he faces an uphill battle. But he’s not on pins and needles anymore.
Lugo-Galicia and other Venezuelan immigrants living in the United States got a reprieve of at least 18 months with a White House announcement Monday that they now are eligible to remain here under what’s known as Temporary Protected Status.
“This is going to help us a lot,” Lugo-Galicia said. “We really need it.”
The executive order shields as many as 320,000 Venezuelans living in the United States from deportation and will allow them to apply for work authorization.
Congress created Temporary Protective Status in 1990 for immigrants seeking to escape the ravages of war and natural disaster from certain countries in Latin America, Africa and the Caribbean. At least 400,000 immigrants already have the status, including some 250,000 from El Salvador, 80,000 from Honduras and 4,500 from…