Trump envoy: Protected status for Venezuelan migrants 'under consideration'  

Trump envoy: Protected status for Venezuelan migrants 'under consideration'  
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President TrumpDonald John TrumpDavid Axelrod after Ginsburg cancer treatment: Supreme Court vacancy could 'tear this country apart' EU says it will 'respond in kind' if US slaps tariffs on France Ginsburg again leaves Supreme Court with an uncertain future MORE's point person on Venezuela on Tuesday said the administration is considering granting Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for migrants fleeing that country's political and economic turmoil.

Special Representative for Venezuela Elliott Abrams said at a press briefing on Tuesday that there has not been a final decision on the issue but that the protections were “under consideration.” 

Abrams comments come after President Trump earlier this month first floated the possibility of expanding TPS to the thousands of Venezuelans who have fled to the U.S., "We're looking at that very seriously," Trump said.

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TPS is granted to individuals fleeing natural disaster or war in their home country and allows them to legally live and work in the United States while the crisis at home resolves.

Expanding the program would be a shift for the administration which has worked to remove protected status for thousands of immigrants from other countries, including El Salvador, Haiti, Nicaragua, and Sudan.

Trump’s decision to end protections for migrants from those four countries was put on hold by a federal judge in October in a preliminary injunction. The administration is appealing that ruling to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.

Congress is also considering extending TPS for Venezuelans. Last month, the House Judiciary Committee approved the Venezuela TPS Act of 2019, which would grant TPS to Venezuelans living in the U.S.    

Around four million Venezuelans have fled the country amid hyperinflation and political violence under the regime of Nicolás Maduro, according to the UN Refugee Agency.