Las Vegas, Nev. – U.S. Senator Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.) and a group of nearly two dozen lawmakers called today on the Trump Administration to grant Temporary Protected Status (TPS) to all eligible Venezuelans currently in the United States. The lawmakers made the request in a letter to the Acting Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, Elaine Duke. The letter also applauds the Trump Administration for confronting Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro’s government through sanctions, but urges President Trump to do more to address the humanitarian situation in Venezuela.
“Congress created TPS in 1990 in order to provide safe haven to individuals in the U.S. whose home countries are suffering from armed conflict, environmental disaster, or other extraordinary conditions which prevent them from returning home safely,” the lawmakers wrote. “The situation in Venezuela is dire and clearly meets this standard.”
In addition to Senator Cortez Masto, the letter was signed by Senators Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Richard Durbin (D-Ill.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Edward Markey (D-Mass.), and Robert Menéndez (D-N.J.) and Representatives Nanette Barragán (D-Calif.), Kathy Castor (D-Fla.), Val Demings (D-Fla.), Ted Deutch (D-Fla.), Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.), Adriano Espaillat (D-N.Y.), Lois Frankel (D-Fla.), Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), Rubén Kihuen (D-Nev.), Stephanie Murphy (D-Fla.), Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.), Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-N.J.), Jared Polis (D-Colo.), Jamie Raskin (D-Md.), and Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.).
Following is the text of the lawmakers’ letter. A pdf copy can be found here.
August 29, 2017
The Honorable Elaine Duke
Acting Secretary of Homeland Security
3801 Nebraska Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20528
Dear Acting Secretary Duke:
We write regarding the increasingly dire situation in Venezuela. As conditions there continue to deteriorate at the hands of Venezuela’s dictator, Nicolás Maduro, we urge you to grant Temporary Protected Status (TPS) to all eligible Venezuelans currently in the United States.
Congress created TPS in 1990 in order to provide safe haven to individuals in the U.S. whose home countries are suffering from armed conflict, environmental disaster, or other extraordinary conditions which prevent them from returning home safely, when doing so is not contrary to the national interest. The situation in Venezuela is dire and clearly meets this standard.
Maduro persists in his deliberate march toward imposing a corrupt, one-party dictatorship and the Venezuelan people continue to suffer from extreme shortages of food, medical supplies, and other staple products. Additionally, the Maduro regime routinely targets Venezuelans in the U.S. as ‘traitors’ and ‘imperialists,’ raising unique concerns for their safety if returned. It is no wonder that Venezuelans became the top U.S. asylum-seekers in 2016.
Granting TPS in these circumstances is also in line with our national interest. Venezuelans in the U.S. have not just become a vibrant part of our communities, but have also made important contributions including as lawyers, doctors, and small-business owners. Further, sending these individuals back could spur mass forced migration, destabilizing the region as neighboring Colombia implements its peace accord and as we seek to curb illicit narcotics flows to the United States.
We applaud this Administration’s decisive action to confront the Maduro regime, but we must also address the humanitarian challenges posed by this crisis. We appreciate your consideration of this request and stand ready to work with you on this issue.