Menendez, Durbin, Schumer Lead Democrats in Again Calling on Trump to Grant TPS for Venezuelans

Menendez, Durbin, Schumer Lead Democrats in Again Calling on Trump to Grant TPS for Venezuelans

 

WASHINGTON – Senator Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Senate Democratic Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), and Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) today led a group of 23 senators in again calling on President Trump to support the victims of the Maduro regime by granting Temporary Protected Status (TPS) to Venezuelans fleeing the political, economic, and humanitarian crisis in their home country.

“As the people of Venezuela continue to suffer political oppression and economic deprivation at the hands of the Nicolas Maduro’s regime, they now also face the alarming spread of the COVID-19 pandemic with a public health system in ruins.” wrote the Democratic Senators. “To that end, we again urge your Administration to immediately provide Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for eligible Venezuelans who are not able to return safely to their country.”

The Senators’ letter follows a years-long campaign pushing President Trump to use his executive authorities to designate Venezuela for TPS.  Today’s effort comes a year after the Democrat-led House of Representatives passed H.R. 549, the Venezuela TPS Act of 2019 in an effort to circumvent the Administration’s inaction by legislatively granting temporary protections to Venezuelans.  

“In July 2019, the House of Representatives passed H.R. 549, the Venezuela TPS Act, a bill that designates Venezuela for Temporary Protected Status (TPS), providing approximately 200,000 Venezuelan nationals with protection in the United States. However, Republican members of the Senate have repeatedly opposed meaningful action on this bill. Moreover, your Administration has the authority it needs to designate Venezuela for TPS today given that conditions in Venezuela clearly meet the requirements of the TPS statute, yet it has failed to do so.” added the Senators.

Established by the U.S. Congress through the Immigration Act of 1990, TPS is a renewable program that provides relief from deportation and access to a work permit for foreign nationals from designated countries who are unable to safely return to their home country due to natural disasters, armed conflicts, or other extraordinary conditions. In 2018 alone, over 30,000 people from Venezuela applied for asylum status in the United States—by far the most of any nationality that year. The TPS designation is a temporary benefit aimed at providing relief to immigrants residing in the United States who are unable to safely return to their home country. TPS recipients are fully vetted and are required to undergo background checks to ensure that they are not risks to public safety or national security. 

Joining Menendez, Schumer and Durbin in sending the letter were Senators Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Chris Coons (D-Del.), Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), Tom Carper (D-Del.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Jacky Rosen (D-Nev.), and Michael Bennet (D-Colo.).

A copy of the letter can be found HERE and below:

 

Dear Mr. President:

We write to express our heightened concern about the number of individuals who have fled Venezuela’s political, economic, and humanitarian crisis and are in urgent need of protection in the United States. As the people of Venezuela continue to suffer political oppression and economic deprivation at the hands of the Nicolas Maduro’s regime, they now also face the alarming spread of the COVID-19 pandemic with a public health system in ruins. To that end, we again urge your Administration to immediately provide Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for eligible Venezuelans who are not able to return safely to their country.

As you know, Venezuela continues to be the number one country of origin for individuals claiming asylum in the U.S. and nearly 30,000 Venezuelans applied for asylum with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) in 2018 alone.  Since 2015, more than five million Venezuelans have fled their country. They have fled Nicolás Maduro’s corrupt regime, attempting to escape a country ravaged by violence, destitution, and the widespread absence of basic food and medicine. Colombia, Peru, Chile, Ecuador, and Brazil are hosting approximately three million Venezuelan refugees and migrants, and it is important for the United States to demonstrate solidarity with the Venezuelan people and these generous host countries. 

With the world confronting the COVID-19 pandemic—which has presented major challenges to public health systems everywhere—most hospitals in Venezuela lack running water, electricity and basic medical supplies. A significant number of Venezuelan medical professionals have fled the country’s political and economic crisis. We fear that the coronavirus will spread unmitigated and further exacerbate the country’s humanitarian crisis. As of July 2, 2020 the Maduro regime has acknowledged more than 6,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19. However, international medical experts and human rights organizations suggest that the number is certainly much higher, given the limited availability of reliable testing, limited transparency, and the persecution of medical professionals, scientists and journalists who report independent data on COVID-19 cases.

In July 2019, the House of Representatives passed H.R. 549, the Venezuela TPS Act, a bill that designates Venezuela for Temporary Protected Status (TPS), providing approximately 200,000 Venezuelan nationals with protection in the United States. However, Republican members of the Senate have repeatedly opposed meaningful action on this bill. Moreover, your Administration has the authority it needs to designate Venezuela for TPS today given that conditions in Venezuela clearly meet the requirements of the TPS statute, yet it has failed to do so.   

Given the extraordinary humanitarian crisis in Venezuela, compounded by the COVID-19 epidemic, we again urge your Administration to grant TPS to eligible Venezuelans currently present in the United States. Without TPS, Venezuelans in the United States are at risk of deportation back to a country where their lives, safety, and freedom are threatened. Designating Venezuela for TPS would demonstrate our nation’s commitment to supporting vulnerable Venezuelans until they can return to their country safely. 

Thank you in advance for your attention to this issue. We look forward to your response

Sincerely,

 

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