Venezuela TPS Act Passes U.S. House of Representatives
Today, the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 549, the Venezuela TPS Act of 2019, authored by Reps. Darren Soto (FL-09) and Mario Diaz-Balart (FL-25), with support from every House Democrat and 39 Republicans. The legislation designates Venezuela for Temporary Protected Status (TPS), protecting approximately 200,000 Venezuelan nationals in the United States from deportation.
“Today’s historic passage of the Venezuela TPS Act aligns with our strongly held American values of compassion and democracy,” stated Rep. Darren Soto. “Venezuelans have become the largest group of asylum seekers applying for refuge in the United States, with hundreds of thousands in Florida alone fearing persecution or death if they returned to their home country. With TPS extended to Venezuelans already in the U.S., we will be able to provide them refuge and save their lives. We now urge Leader Mitch McConnell to do the right thing, and support Senators Marco Rubio and Bob Menendez’s Venezuela TPS efforts, and bring our bill to the Senate Floor for a vote. We are encouraged by the vocal support from the Trump administration towards Venezuelans and expect TPS to be signed into law once it reaches the President’s desk. I’m proud to have worked together with my Florida, and House, colleagues to advance the first bipartisan immigration bill to pass the House this Congress!”
“The ongoing crisis in Venezuela is a challenge to the conscience of the world, with countless vulnerable men, women and children suffering grave human rights abuses at the hands of Maduro’s brutal regime,” said Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi. “Congressman Darren Soto is to be commended for his tireless leadership in passing the Venezuela TPS Act to ensure Venezuelans can continue to contribute to our communities and enrich our nation, safe from fear and violence. House Democrats are committed to honoring our heritage as a beacon of liberty and hope to millions of people around the world, and we will continue to defend the right of every person to pursue their American Dream.”
Stated Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart: “Today, the House of Representatives was able to gather the strong, bipartisan support needed to pass the Venezuela TPS Act of 2019. Today’s vote was an important victory toward the goal of ensuring that Venezuelan nationals who have fled the oppressive Maduro dictatorship are granted temporary protected status in the United States until it is safe for them to return to Venezuela. As I’ve mentioned before, our ultimate objective must be freedom for the Venezuelan people. Until that goal is reached, we must protect those who have escaped Maduro’s murderous, narco-terrorist regime. I urge my colleagues in the Senate to bring this bill to a vote. I look forward to working with my colleagues in the Senate and the administration until we can secure protections for these individuals.”
Stated Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz: “After months of inaction from the President, House Democrats stepped into the void and extended life-saving protections to Venezuelans who have fled starvation, violence, and persecution. The Maduro regime has perpetuated egregious human rights abuses and inflicted an economic and humanitarian crisis on the people of Venezuela. South Florida has the largest Venezuelan population in the United States. I have heard firsthand from neighbors and friends about the brutality of this regime and horrendous circumstances that forced families to flee - stories of children kidnapped from playgrounds, family members dying of hunger, government-sponsored violence, and the deprivation of civil rights. Despite calling the Maduro regime a ‘nightmare of poverty, hunger, and death’ and saying he was ‘very seriously’ looking at extending TPS to Venezuela, the President and his administration have only committed to ‘monitoring’ the situation in Venezuela. In the meantime, this administration continues to deport Venezuelan nationals – sending them back to the nightmare they escaped. Extending TPS will ensure Venezuelans are shielded from the imminent danger of deportation and can obtain work permits.”
Stated Rep. Debbie Mucarsel-Powell: “After months of inaction and empty promises from the Trump Administration, I am proud that the House passed temporary protected status – critical deportation relief – with strong bipartisan support. In Miami, I routinely meet with reporters who have fled their homes because a free press does not exist in Venezuela. Just this week, more rolling blackouts hit the country, jeopardizing the lives of hospital patients and sending the country into darkness. Even if Nicolás Maduro, the leader of the brutal narco-regime, were to leave today, ‘extraordinary and temporary conditions exist’ that would prevent Venezuelans from safely returning. There is no doubt Maduro’s regime has plunged Venezuela into catastrophe. I hope the Senate and the White House will hear the Venezuelan community’s loud calls for help and swiftly pass TPS.”
Stated Rep. Donna E. Shalala: “Today, Venezuela is the site of the hemisphere’s largest economic, political, and humanitarian crisis. Millions of people have fled its borders in the last few years to escape extreme violence, economic collapse, and acute shortages of food and medicine. Since its founding, the United States has always been a proud refuge to the persecuted of the world. By granting TPS to those Venezuelans currently in the United States, the House not only acted to preserve our American legacy and values, but we have given hope to thousands of people in my district whose lives would be jeopardized if they were forced to return to Venezuela. After 154 Republicans voted against this bill, blocking it from passing under suspension of the rules, we worked diligently in the Rules Committee to guarantee that this lifesaving legislation would come to a vote under regular order prior to the upcoming August District Work Period. I am proud of the work we’ve done today, but it is now time for our colleagues in the Senate to do the right thing and pass this critical legislation.”
Stated Rep. Stephanie Murphy: “Venezuela is in absolute crisis, and making Venezuelans in the U.S. go home right now is immoral. In some cases, it could be a death sentence. Requiring people who have sought refuge in America to return to a failed state violates our core values as a nation. Passing TPS is a critical step—but for Venezuela to prosper, and for the U.S. to protect its national security, the Maduro regime must go.”
H.R. 549 automatically designates eligible Venezuelans for TPS for an initial period of 18 months, with option of renewal. Venezuelan nationals will be eligible for TPS if: 1) they have been continuously physically present in the United States since the date of enactment; 2) are admissible to the United States and not ineligible for TPS; and 3) register for TPS in a manner established by the Secretary of Homeland Security. The TPS program contains the most stringent criminal and public safety bars in all of immigration law.