Dem senator wants Trump to extend immigration protections to Venezuelans

Dem senator wants Trump to extend immigration protections to Venezuelans
© Greg Nash
The Virginia Democrat said the U.S. should designate Venezuelans for temporary protected status (TPS), a program that allows foreign nationals from countries undergoing major upheavals to remain and work in the United States.
"If you don't do TPS, it really compromises the sincerity in the message that you're sending about your support for the Venezuelan people," Kaine told reporters on a call Monday.
The Senate Armed Services Committee member also said the Trump administration has mostly taken the right approach regarding the power struggle in Venezuela, with the exception of what he called "loose language on military action."
But he noted that he has "seen no evidence" that immediate military action against embattled President Nicolás Maduro is in the cards.
The administration has built its case against Maduro and thrown its support behind opposition leader Juan Guaidó. It also has directed sanctions against Venezuela and rallied international support from like-minded countries in Europe and Latin America.
Guaidó, who is head of the unicameral National Assembly, was sworn in by his supporters as interim president in January but has been unable to wrest control from Maduro over most Venezuelan institutions.
"I don't think we should expect to see change overnight," Kaine said.
He added that Guaidó's actions in Venezuela — leading rallies and raising opposition to Maduro — are a good sign. But without TPS for Venezuelans, the administration's commitment could be called into question, Kaine warned.
"If they really care about the Venezuelan people, offer Venezuelans who are in the United States now TPS," he said.
A bipartisan group of House members also has requested TPS status for Venezuelans by way of an amendment to the Democrats' key immigration legislation this year, the Dream and Promise Act.
But the administration has been reluctant to expand TPS, a program on its target list for reductions.
Elliott Abrams, Trump's special envoy for Venezuela, said earlier this month that the inclusion of Venezuela in TPS is "under review."
TPS designations are made by the secretary of Homeland Security for a maximum of 18 months per country for each designation. The program protects the designated country's citizens in the United States if they pass background checks.