Senator Bob Menendez, a Democrat from New Jersey, and Senator Marco Rubio, a Republican from Florida, presented a bipartisan bill on Thursday that would extend Temporary Protected Status (TPS) to Venezuelans currently in the US. TPS is a federal program under Section 244 of the Immigration and Naturalization Act that provides status to individuals from countries suffering from war, natural disasters or other similar temporarily destabilizing circumstances.
The bill outlines dismal conditions in Venezuela. The IMF predicts that the annual inflation rate could reach one million percent in 2018. Due to malnutrition and extreme medicine shortages it is estimated that 75 percent of the population lost 24 pounds in 2017. And, in the last two years, Venezuelan security forces have executed 505 people, including 24 children. Violence, lack of resources and oppression have lead more than one and a half million Venezuelans to flee, many coming to the US.
In a tweet Senator Menendez said: “The last thing we should be doing right now is trying to deport hard working immigrants from while the Maduro regime continues its path towards self-destruction.”
While the Trump administration has announced humanitarian aid for Venezuela, it is not expected to support the bill. This year the administration attempted to strip TPS from nationals of Haiti, Sudan, Nicaragua and El Salvador. A federal judge issued a temporary injunction blocking that move while litigation pends.