Temporary protected status for Venezuelans should be just that — temporary

Temporary protected status for Venezuelans should be just that — temporary
© Getty Images

Offering Temporary Protected Status (TPS) to foreign nationals whose countries are experiencing the aftereffects of a natural disaster or political upheaval is a worthy idea, at least on paper.

In practice, it repeatedly has been shown to be a fraud. No sooner is TPS granted than the lobbying effort to grant repeated extensions begins. Pretty soon 20 years have passed and, when an administration finally decides there no longer is a valid reason to extend it, and decides that temporary should actually mean temporary, the same network of advocacy groups goes to court and finds an activist judge to block the termination of the benefit.

Advocates on both the left and right now are urging that TPS be granted to Venezuelans living in the United States. Those on the left are doing so because they’ve never met an immigration program they didn’t like. In this case, the effort is being spearheaded by Senate Minority Leader Dick DurbinRichard (Dick) Joseph DurbinDemocrats dig in ahead of Supreme Court ruling on 'Dreamers' Senate GOP braces for impeachment trial 'roller coaster' Trump judicial nominee delayed amid GOP pushback MORE (D-Ill.), who recently was rebuffed in an effort to “hotline” a bill through the Senate.

ADVERTISEMENT

On the right, there are some who are pushing it because Venezuela has been run into the ground by a socialist regime — an impulse made all the more poignant by folks such as Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersWarren to protest with striking Chicago teachers Sanders: 'Outrageous' to suggest Gabbard 'is a foreign asset' Democratic strategist: Sanders seeking distance from Warren could 'backfire' MORE (I-Vt.) and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-CortezAlexandria Ocasio-CortezDemocratic strategist: Sanders seeking distance from Warren could 'backfire' These 3 women are defining the race to unseat Trump CBS to Ocasio-Cortez on Sanders support: 'As a woman of color, why back an old white guy?' MORE (D-N.Y.), who would import that failed ideology to the United States. 

We have a system to handle refugee and asylum claims. The TPS program was designed to address a situation where a government’s capacity was hindered by natural disaster or epidemic. Venezuela is in the midst of a political dispute. Even if it were deemed appropriate, there is one big hitch: TPS has operated in such bad faith for so long that the American people have no reason to believe it can be repealed once granted.

Last year, the Trump administration attempted to end TPS for 300,000 Honduran, Salvadoran, Haitian and Sudanese nationals — some of whom have been allowed to remain in the United States “temporarily” for more than 20 years. The natural and political events that triggered TPS in these countries aren’t likes to change, even if we extended TPS for another 20 years.

The Trump administration’s decision to give citizens of those countries 18 months to return home has been blocked by a federal judge on the grounds that doing so would cause the people who accepted our offer of temporary refuge “irreparable harm and great hardship.” How much longer the matter will drag out, and who will be sitting in the Oval Office when it is finally resolved, is anyone’s guess. This proves TPS is unworkable for the nation as a whole. 

President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump says he doesn't want NYT in the White House Veterans group backs lawsuits to halt Trump's use of military funding for border wall Schiff punches back after GOP censure resolution fails MORE has an opportunity to challenge Congress to demonstrate that TPS is not a back door to permanent immigration. The president should make it clear that he will not sign any new TPS authorizations until Congress clears the way for revoking that status to foreign nationals whose homelands have long since recovered from the immediate aftermath of the circumstances that led to TPS. 

ADVERTISEMENT

The American public needs some reassurance that they are not going to be cast, yet again, as the hapless hosts in a grand-scale political production of “The Man Who Came to Dinner,” where the “guest” never leaves. Second, the president needs to assert that TPS cannot be granted to people who are in the country illegally. Illegal aliens, for the most part, have no intention of honoring a commitment to return home.

Perhaps most important of all, beyond a short stay of, say, 18 months because of exigent circumstances in that country, Venezuelans are desperately needed in Venezuela. Nicolas Maduro is not going to give up the reins of power on his own. Cuba already has shown the consequences of transferring the dissident class to our shores. The tyrants remain in power until public opposition forces a choice. 

Much like the rest of our humanitarian immigration programs, TPS is undeniably being abused. If it can’t be fixed, then the program should be abolished.

Dan Stein is president of the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) in Washington, D.C. Follow on Twitter @FAIRImmigration.