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Census numbers show more than half of Venezuelan immigrants in the US live in Florida

The U.S. recently extended temporary protected status to immigrants from Venezuela.

TAMPA, Fla. — More than 21,000 Venezuelans call Tampa Bay home, with the majority being in Pinellas and Hillsborough counties. Florida as a whole is a top destination for Venezuelan immigrants.

Musician Edepson Gonzalez, who moved to Tampa just a few months ago, says politics in Venezuela pushed people like him away.

“We are looking for an opportunity to live in a place with dignity and peace,” Gonzalez said.

In 2019, thousands of people in Venezuela and here in the U.S. took to the streets to protest.

They called for the removal of President Nicolás Maduro after the country’s legislative body deemed his presidency illegitimate. They instead named Juan Guaidó as the interim president until free elections could be held. Dozens of countries, including the U.S. recognize Guaidó as the country’s leader but to this day, Maduro assumes power.

“It was very hard to work to make anything,” Gonzalez said. “You try to change things, but it’s not possible right now. You have to have faith that all things are going to change for the better, but the reality is that it’s not like you think.”

Several countries have since offered residency permits to Venezuelan nationals. The U.S. has also just extended temporary protected status. That now runs through March 2024.

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