▶ Watch Video: Spike in migrant crossings at U.S.-Mexico border putting strain on state, federal resources

Washington — The Biden administration intends to offer hundreds of thousands of Venezuelan migrants in the U.S. the ability to live and work in the country legally, approving a longstanding request from cities struggling to house asylum-seekers, three people familiar with the matter told CBS News Wednesday.

The Department of Homeland Security is expected to expand, or redesignate, the Temporary Protected Status program for Venezuelan migrants, allowing recent arrivals to apply for the deportation protections and work permits offered by the policy, the sources said, requesting anonymity to discuss internal government deliberations before its formal announcement.

Currently, only Venezuelans who arrived in the U.S. before March 2021 qualify for TPS, a program created by Congress in 1990 to offer a temporary safe haven to migrants from countries facing humanitarian crises, such as an armed conflict or a natural disaster. 

By redesignating Venezuela’s TPS program, the U.S. will be rendering the record number of Venezuleans who have reached the U.S. over the past two years eligible for the status. Venezuelans who reach the U.S. after the announcement will not qualify for TPS.

While others without legal status will also qualify for TPS — the announcement will mostly benefit the more than 400,000 Venezuelan migrants who have trekked to the southern border over the past two-and-a-half years as part of a massive exodus from the South American country.

In recent years, more than seven million Venezuelans have fled economic calamity and authoritarian rule, with most of them resettling in other South American nations, such as Colombia, marking the largest refugee crisis ever recorded in the Western Hemisphere. 

The administration’s announcement will represent an important victory for congressional Democrats and leaders in large cities like New York, who for months have been pressuring the federal government to grant migrants in their communities legal status so they can work legally more quickly and not rely on local services.

New York City, in particular, has struggled to house tens of thousands of migrants, many of them from Venezuela, in over 100 hotels, shelters, tent cities and other facilities.

The Biden administration has used TPS on an unprecedented scale, making record numbers of migrants from Afghanistan, Cameroon, Ethiopia, Haiti, Myanmar, Sudan and Ukraine eligible for the program.

The administration has also kept in place long-standing TPS programs for El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua and Nepal, reversing the Trump administration’s efforts to terminate them. TPS has long been criticized by Republicans who argue it had been improperly used to give legal status to migrants, some of whom entered the U.S. illegally, for indefinite periods of time despite its temporary nature.

The Biden administration, however, has internally resisted at times expanding TPS programs for certain countries, such as Nicaragua, due to concerns about encouraging more migrants to cross the U.S.-Mexico border illegally with a generous immigration announcement.

Illegal crossings along the southern border have reached record levels under the Biden administration. While they dropped to a two-year low in June, unlawful border crossings increased sharply in July and August, testing a carrots and sticks strategy the administration unveiled earlier this year with the hopes of slowing down U.S.-bound migration.