LOS ANGELES — A few weeks ago, the federal government offered temporary protected status — or TPS — to over 400,000 Venezuelan immigrants who arrived in the country before July 31, giving them 18 months of protection from deportation and the ability to work legally. 

Los Angeles is already home to thousands of Venezuelans, one of which runs a very popular food stand at various farmers markets around Los Angeles.  

Mercedes Rojas owns a popular food business called The Arepa Stand. Though she’s a classically trained chef, these recipes come from her mother’s kitchen.

“This is the meat for the 405, which is our most popular arepa,” says

Rojas says she doesn’t take being one of the unofficial ambassadors of her Venezuelan culture lightly.

“Representing Venezuela is an achievement for me because I feel proud that I’m cooking the country’s food where I was born,” she said.

According to a 2021 us census report, Los Angeles is one of the top 10 cities where Venezuelan migrants come to escape the worsening humanitarian crisis in the country.

Many Venezuelan immigrants hope to have a Los Angeles success story like Rojas, and her dreams for the arepa stand don’t stop here.“I want [The Arepa Stand] to be its own restaurant. I do, that’s the goal.”