Bipartisan group of senators petitions Trump for Venezuelan immigration benefits

Bipartisan group of senators petitions Trump for Venezuelan immigration benefits
© Stefani Reynolds

A bipartisan group of senators asked President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump says he will 'temporarily hold off' on declaring Mexican drug cartels as terror organization House Judiciary Committee formally receives impeachment report Artist behind gold toilet offered to Trump sells banana duct-taped to a wall for 0,000 MORE on Thursday to grant temporary protected status (TPS) to Venezuelan citizens in the United States, amid an ongoing political and humanitarian crisis in the South American country.

Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerOvernight Health Care — Presented by Johnson & Johnson — Democrats call on Supreme Court to block Louisiana abortion law | Michigan governor seeks to pause Medicaid work requirements | New front in fight over Medicaid block grants House, Senate Democrats call on Supreme Court to block Louisiana abortion law Why a second Trump term and a Democratic Congress could be a nightmare scenario for the GOP MORE (D-N.Y.), fellow Democratic Sens. Dick DurbinRichard (Dick) Joseph DurbinSupreme Court poised to hear first major gun case in a decade Protecting the future of student data privacy: The time to act is now Overnight Health Care: Crunch time for Congress on surprise medical bills | CDC confirms 47 vaping-related deaths | Massachusetts passes flavored tobacco, vaping products ban MORE (Ill.) and Bob MenendezRobert (Bob) MenendezGOP senator blocks Armenian genocide resolution The job no GOP senator wants: 'I'd rather have a root canal' Senate passes legislation supporting Hong Kong protesters MORE (N.J.), and Republican Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioTikTok's leader to meet with lawmakers next week GOP senators unveil bill to expand 'opportunity zone' reporting requirements Three dead, several injured in Pensacola naval station shooting MORE (Fla.) wrote to the White House, asking for the administration to designate Venezuela within TPS.

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In a letter reviewed by The Hill, the senators asked Trump for the designation "in light of the ongoing violence, deteriorating security situation, and humanitarian crisis in Venezuela caused by the illegitimate regime of Nicolás Maduro."

Under TPS, foreign nationals of a country undergoing man-made or natural disasters are allowed to live and work in the United States as their home country recovers.

Designations are made on a country-by-country basis and apply to foreign nationals already in the United States, and can be renewed indefinitely for periods of up to 18 months.

Trump has systematically targeted for termination long-standing TPS designations — including some that have been consistently renewed for decades, such as El Salvador.

But the Trump administration has kept at least one newer designation active — for Syrian nationals fleeing the country's civil war — suggesting a potential openness to maintain the program in effect.

And the Venezuelan crisis has become a central foreign policy issue and a rare point of accord for Trump and Congress.

“The situation in Venezuela is volatile and violent, so it makes all the sense in the world to extend Temporary Protected Status to Venezuelan immigrants who should not be forced to return there while circumstances are so dangerous," said Schumer in a statement.

"It is imperative Venezuela, working in concert with our allies throughout Latin America, move past the disastrous and despotic Maduro regime and reestablish order, democracy and human rights. The United States must stand as a beacon of freedom and extend this protection to eligible Venezuelans yearning for a peaceful, prosperous and democratic Venezuela,” he added.

Durbin, Menendez and Rubio, along with Sens. Patrick LeahyPatrick Joseph LeahyICE emerges as stumbling block in government funding talks Republicans raise concerns over Trump pardoning service members Lawmakers bypass embattled Mulvaney in spending talks MORE (D-Vt.) and Cory BookerCory Anthony BookerBloomberg apologizes after critics say his calling Booker 'well spoken' was racist Biden: All-white debate not representative of party, but 'you can't dictate' nominee Booker unveils legislation for federal bill to ban discrimination against natural hair MORE (D-N.J). introduced last week a bill to designate Venezuela for TPS.

But the program generally operates by executive action, with the secretary of Homeland Security announcing new designations and terminations.

In their letter, the senators ask Trump to mandate a designation for Venezuela, based on the country's political and economic conditions.

"Venezuela clearly meets the standard for TPS as it is obviously too dangerous for Venezuelan nationals to return to their country. It is facing simultaneous humanitarian, economic, and political crises of monumental proportions due to Maduro’s criminal regime," wrote the senators.

The senators added a reminder that TPS designations don't carry any permanent immigration benefits for their beneficiaries, and any recipient must pass a background check.

"As the United States and our partners in the international community have condemned the illegitimate Maduro regime’s brutal campaign of repression, granting TPS to Venezuela is a concrete measure your Administration can immediately take to alleviate the suffering of innocent Venezuelan civilians and to demonstrate our nation’s commitment to supporting a safe democratic transition in Venezuela so that individuals can safely return home soon," they wrote.

Schumer, Durbin, Menendez and Rubio were joined by 20 other Democratic senators.