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 TrumpFederal prosecutor speaks out, says Barr 'has brought shame' on Justice Dept. Former Pence aide: White House staffers discussed Trump refusing to leave office Progressive group buys domain name of Trump's No. 1 Supreme Court pick 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 SchumerChuck SchumerPelosi slams Trump executive order on pre-existing conditions: It 'isn't worth the paper it's signed on' 3 reasons why Biden is misreading the politics of court packing Cruz blocks amended resolution honoring Ginsburg over language about her dying wish MORE (D-N.Y.), fellow Democratic Sens. Dick DurbinRichard (Dick) Joseph DurbinThe Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by Facebook - Trump previews SCOTUS nominee as 'totally brilliant' Feinstein 'surprised and taken aback' by suggestion she's not up for Supreme Court fight Grand jury charges no officers in Breonna Taylor death MORE (Ill.) and Bob MenendezRobert (Bob) MenendezWatchdog confirms State Dept. canceled award for journalist who criticized Trump Kasie Hunt to host lead-in show for MSNBC's 'Morning Joe' Senators ask for removal of tariffs on EU food, wine, spirits: report MORE (N.J.), and Republican Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioGOP lawmakers distance themselves from Trump comments on transfer of power McConnell pushes back on Trump: 'There will be an orderly transition' Graham vows GOP will accept election results after Trump comments 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 LeahyBipartisan representatives demand answers on expired surveillance programs Democrats shoot down talk of expanding Supreme Court Battle over timing complicates Democratic shutdown strategy MORE (D-Vt.) and Cory BookerCory Anthony BookerThe movement to reform animal agriculture has reached a tipping point Watchdog confirms State Dept. canceled award for journalist who criticized Trump 3 reasons why Biden is misreading the politics of court packing 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.