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Diaz-Balart, Soto Introduce Bill To Give Venezuelans Temporary Protected Status

Tim Padgett
Recently arrived Venezuelan migrants lining up for food aid at a Doral church in 2017.

Venezuela’s humanitarian and human rights crisis is one of the worst South America has ever seen. So a Miami lawmaker helped introduce a bill in Congress Thursday to protect Venezuelans living here from being deported back.

Since 2014, a quarter million Venezuelans have come to the U.S., mostly to Florida. During that time Venezuela has fallen into an abyss of economic catastrophe, violent crime and dictatorship. It’s estimated by the end of this year almost a fifth of the population will have fled.

Two Florida congressman have introduced a bill giving Venezuelans in the U.S. Temporary Protected Status, or TPS. Democrat Darren Soto of Orlando and Republican Mario Diaz-Balart of Miami want to prevent Venezuelans from being deported back home, for at least a year and a half.

In a statement, Diaz-Balart said, “We must not force Venezuelans who have sought safety in the United States to return to such dangerous conditions.”

But even if the bill passes, it may well face a veto from President Trump, who is not fond of TPS. He ended that status for people from Haiti and Central America, even though experts say disastrous conditions in their countries have not improved.

What’s more, the Trump Administration has made clear it does not want to encourage more Venezuelans to come here. It’s made it harder for them to get U.S. visitor visas and asylum. More people apply for U.S. asylum from Venezuela today than from any other nation.