Florida lawmakers pitch bipartisan Venezuela amendment for Dream Act

Florida lawmakers pitch bipartisan Venezuela amendment for Dream Act
© Greg Nash

Two Florida lawmakers plan to file a bipartisan amendment to the newest version of the Dream Act that would give Venezuelans in the United States temporary work permits and a reprieve from deportation.

Reps. Mario Diaz-BalartMario Rafael Diaz-BalartBipartisan group reveals agricultural worker immigration bill GOP lawmakers offer new election security measure Trump calls on Supreme Court to strike down DACA, says deal possible MORE (R) and Darren SotoDarren Michael SotoDemocrats demand FCC act over leak of phone location data Overnight Health Care — Presented by National Taxpayers Union — Buttigieg targets Warren, Sanders on health care ahead of debate | Judge overturns ObamaCare transgender protections | Poll sees support drop for 'Medicare for All' Hispanic voters push campaigns to address gun violence MORE (D) on Thursday said their amendment would include Venezuelans in the temporary protected status (TPS) program. The move came two days after House Democrats introduced the Dream and Promise Act of 2019.


Bipartisan measures to grant TPS to Venezuelans have been introduced in the House and Senate, but Democratic leadership has made the Dream Act a legislative priority, making that bill the best vehicle for advancing protections for Venezuelans living in the U.S.

Diaz-Balart, a veteran of previous immigration reform talks, said this week he supports the spirit of the new Dream bill, but lambasted Democratic leadership for not including Republicans in drafting the legislation.

Under the new measure, various groups would get permanent immigration status and a path to citizenship, including recipients of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program; TPS holders; and deferred enforced departure (DED) beneficiaries.

TPS and DED are designed to protect from deportation citizens of foreign countries that experienced or are experiencing man-made or natural catastrophes.

Under TPS, each designation can protect a country's nationals for up to 18 months at a time. The new version of Dream Act would make permanent those benefits.

The Trump administration has been winding down TPS designations for most countries in the program, breaking with previous administrations that often renewed the protections.

The administration’s orders to rescind TPS designations have been temporarily blocked by federal courts but could be reinstated depending on how the cases are resolved.

According to U.S. Census figures, in 2017 there were about 230,000 non-naturalized Venezuelans living in the United States.

TPS would protect Venezuelans who are in the country illegally, do not hold green cards as legal permanent residents or have temporary legal status that’s due to expire.

The humanitarian, political and economic crisis in Venezuela has taken center stage in the United States as the Trump administration has made regime change in the embattled South American country a top-tier foreign policy goal.

Many Venezuelan expatriates in the United States reside in Florida, a state that also served as the main destination for the Cuban diaspora fleeing from that country's repressive communist government.

"This commonsense bill provides a solution to the many Venezuelans who currently reside in our country who fled a socialist dictatorship, and the oppression, hyperinflation, extreme shortages of food and medicine, and crime that the regime is responsible for" Diaz-Balart said in a statement.