Millions of Venezuelans could potentially be granted asylum and temporary amnesty in the United States due to worsening conditions under socialist rule in their nation.
House Democrats were joined by 39 Republicans to pass a Temporary Protected Status (TPS) program for Venezuelans, thereby providing a path for those already in the U.S. to remain while giving an incentive to others escaping their socialist dictator.
— Rep. Donna E. Shalala (@RepShalala) July 25, 2019
The bipartisan bill, sponsored by Republican Florida Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart and Democrat Rep. Darren Soto, passed by a vote of 272-158 and now heads to the U.S. Senate.
House vote tally on Venezuela TPS Act, passed 272-158 with 232 Democrats, 39 Republicans and Amash-I voting Yes, 158 Republicans voted No. Bill now heads to Senate. https://t.co/kc78V4ZmqN
— Craig Caplan (@CraigCaplan) July 26, 2019
“The House of Representatives just spoke in a bipartisan voice that the situation in Venezuela is so dire and dangerous that nationals of Venezuela should be eligible for temporary protected status. I commend this legislative effort, as President Trump recently denied bipartisan congressional requests to extend TPS relief for Venezuelans,” Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer said ahead of Thursday’s vote.
With the dire situation in Venezuela, the House just passed a bipartisan bill making Venezuelans eligible for temporary protected status@SenateMajLdr McConnell must now hold a vote
We can’t turn a blind eye to the many Venezuelans yearning for a peaceful & democratic Venezuela
— Chuck Schumer (@SenSchumer) July 25, 2019
“Senator McConnell must bring this legislation for a vote without delay. Any attempt to block this legislation turns a blind eye to the many Venezuelans yearning for a peaceful, prosperous, and democratic Venezuela,” he added.
Republicans who joined with every single Democrat who voted included Reps. Dan Crenshaw of Texas, Mario Diaz-Balart of Florida, Anthony Gonzalez of Ohio and Peter King of New York.
“If there is any population that meets the absolute statutory definition of being granted TPS, it is the Venezuelan people who have fled a dictator who is starving his own people,” Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz said, according to the Miami Herald.
Shultz represents one of the largest Venezuelan communities in the country, with Florida being home to an estimated 170,000 Venezuelans, more than any state in the nation.
But Republicans opposed to the measure spoke out fiercely against the effort to continue an immigration policy that renders America as “the world’s orphanage for children and adults alike.”
“This bill proposes a tsunami of people coming to our country who are ill-equipped to support themselves,” Rep. Mo Brooks said on the House floor earlier this week.
“And, let’s put that into the perspective of where we are as a nation. We just blew through the $22 trillion debt mark earlier this year. This year, we are looking at a roughly $900 billion deficit. A deal that has been reached that will only increase our deficit by $2 trillion over the next two years pushing our debt up to $22 trillion. This is money we do not have, have to borrow to get, and cannot afford to pay back,” he said.
“How does that relate to H.R. 549? Well, let me share some numbers with you. Sixty percent of households with a lawful immigrant in them are on welfare, living off the hard work of others. Seventy percent of illegal alien households are on welfare, living off the hard work of others here in the United States of America,” he added.
“We have to get our own house in order and this legislation helps to increase that disorder,” Brooks said.
What is “Temporary Protected Status” (TPS)?
TPS, a legal designation granted by the executive branch, is relatively simple: It offers a reprieve to foreigners currently in the U.S. if their home country falls into crisis. For instance, instead of forcing Haitian citizens who were in the U.S. during Haiti’s devastating 2010 earthquake to return to their country’s dire conditions, the Obama administration granted them TPS status. This gave them temporary legal status and work permits in the U.S.
What would this mean for the Venezuelans who might be granted TPS? In the past, Republican and Democratic administrations—namely George W. Bush and Barack Obama’s administrations—have renewed TPS without much of a hitch. But because TPS is only a temporary status, and doesn’t offer a path to citizenship, it puts recipients in a legal gray zone. And as Haitians and others found out last year, the lives they’ve built in the U.S. could be suddenly uprooted by executive decree. The question then comes down to how long we can expect the Venezuelan crisis to persist: How long will Venezuelans in this country need protected status? When will they be able to return to their home country?
Venezuela’s economic and political decay currently has no end in sight, which means potential TPS recipients could spend years—even decades—building lives in this country without any guarantee that they could choose to stay. (In contrast, Venezuelans who are granted refugee status have legal permanent residency and a path to citizenship.) TPS status would certainly come as a relief for Venezuelans with temporary visas or undocumented status, but it might not be a long-term solution.
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