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 TrumpHow to stand out in the crowd: Kirsten Gillibrand needs to find her niche Countdown clock is on for Mueller conclusions Omar: White supremacist attacks are rising because Trump publicly says 'Islam hates us' 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 Schumer4 in 5 Americans say they support net neutrality: poll GOP senator: Trump's criticism of McCain 'deplorable' Schumer to introduce bill naming Senate office building after McCain amid Trump uproar MORE (D-N.Y.), fellow Democratic Sens. Dick DurbinRichard (Dick) Joseph DurbinSenate Dems petition Saudi king to release dissidents, US citizen GOP moves to rein in president's emergency powers Senate votes to confirm Neomi Rao to appeals court MORE (Ill.) and Bob MenendezRobert (Bob) MenendezThe Hill's 12:30 Report: Manafort sentenced to total of 7.5 years in prison Acting Defense chief calls Graham an 'ally' after tense exchange William Barr is right man for the times MORE (N.J.), and Republican Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioCountdown clock is on for Mueller conclusions Rubio wants 'all' of Mueller report made public including founding documents Rubio: Trump reversal on North Korea sanctions 'shouldn't have happened that way' 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 LeahyTop Senate Dem to Trump: It would be a 'grave mistake' to follow in Richard Nixon's footsteps Booker takes early lead in 2020 endorsements Hillicon Valley: Mueller delivers report, ending investigation | FEMA exposed info of 2.3M disaster survivors | Facebook asks judge to toss DC privacy lawsuit | Trump picks his first CTO | FCC settles lawsuit over net neutrality records MORE (D-Vt.) and Cory BookerCory Anthony BookerHow to stand out in the crowd: Kirsten Gillibrand needs to find her niche Biden, Sanders edge Trump in hypothetical 2020 matchups in Fox News poll Here's what the Dem candidates for president said about the Mueller report 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.