Relief and opportunity for 200,000 Venezuelan immigrants
For years, elected leaders, lawmakers, and advocates have denounced Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro’s dictatorial regime, accusing him of violating human rights, silencing free speech, and using lethal force against the Venezuelan people.1 This violent assertion of power has exacerbated other systemic problems in the country, including limited access to healthcare, food and fuel scarcity, and a historic economic collapse—all in the midst of a global pandemic, Maduro’s response to which has also been criticized. And Venezuelans who have tried to flee face a difficult road to safety.
Recognizing that returning to Venezuela under the Maduro regime would be extremely dangerous,2 lawmakers in Congress have put forward bipartisan proposals to provide Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Venezuelans living in the United States today. This would protect Venezuelans from deportation and grant them the opportunity to apply for work authorization, as well as with travel authorization in extenuating circumstances.
Representatives Darren Soto (D-FL), Mario Díaz-Balart (R-FL), and Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL) have introduced the bipartisan Venezuela Temporary Protected Status Act of 2021 (H.R. 161). Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ), incoming Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, has introduced a companion bill in the Senate (S.50), joined by Senators Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Dick Durbin (D-IL), and Cory Booker (D-NJ).3
In 2019, the Congressional Budget Office estimated that approximately 200,000 individuals would benefit from legislation establishing TPS for Venezuelans. According to the Pew Research Center, more than half of Venezuelans in the U.S. live in Florida.