WASHINGTON – The House Judiciary Committee of the United States House of Representatives approved on Wednesday a bill that seeks to grant immigration protection known as Temporary Protected Status to thousands of Venezuelans suffering from the humanitarian crisis engulfing the country.
The measure, approved in the House judiciary by 20 votes in favor and nine against, must be submitted to vote during the plenary session of the House of Representatives.
According to legislators, the TPS, an immigration benefit that would allow thousands of Venezuelans to work and live legally in the US, would be a demonstration of Washington’s support for a “democratic transition” in Venezuela.
“Venezuela TPS Act of 2019 passed the @HouseJudiciary Committee! Thousands of Venezuelans are coming from a country that is experiencing an unprecedented economic and humanitarian crisis, and they cannot return safely. It’s time to act and pass TPS for Venezuelans!” tweeted Democratic Congresswoman from Florida, Donna Shalala, after the approval.
The legislative proposal was presented in January by Congressmen Mario Diaz-Balart (Republican) and Darren Soto (Democrat) – both representatives of Florida districts – a state with a large presence of Venezuelan migrants.
TPS is an immigration program created in 1990 through which the US grants extraordinary permits to nationals of countries affected by war or natural disasters.
For decades, the US automatically renewed the TPS until President Donald Trump decided to end some of the permits, arguing that they are temporary and it is the prerogative of Congress to pass a law to regularize the status of its beneficiaries.
In recent months, Trump has canceled TPS for countries such as Haiti, Nicaragua, El Salvador and Honduras and the granting of such a measure to Venezuela would be a break in the immigration policy followed by the administration so far.
In February, the Department of Homeland Security announced TPS extensions until Jan. 2, 2020 for beneficiaries from El Salvador, Nicaragua, Haiti and Sudan, in compliance with a court ruling.
As a bill that has bipartisan support, it is likely to be backed by the House of Representatives and the Senate, with Democrat and Republican majorities, respectively.
The Committee on Foreign Relations of the US Senate Wednesday examined another legislative proposal on Venezuela.
Known as the “Venezuela Emergency Relief, Democracy Assistance, and Development Act,” it seeks to raise up to $400 million in humanitarian aid for Venezuela.