Letter to the Hon. Donald Trump, President of the United States - Feinstein, Menendez, Durbin, Schumer, Colleagues Call on Trump to Grant TPS for Venezuelans
Dear Mr. President:
We write to express our heightened concern about the number of individuals who have fled Venezuela's political, economic, and humanitarian crisis and are in urgent need of protection in the United States. As the people of Venezuela continue to suffer political oppression and economic deprivation at the hands of the Nicolas Maduro's regime, they now also face the alarming spread of the COVID-19 pandemic with a public health system in ruins. To that end, we again urge your Administration to immediately provide Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for eligible Venezuelans who are not able to return safely to their country.
As you know, Venezuela continues to be the number one country of origin for individuals claiming asylum in the U.S. and nearly 30,000 Venezuelans applied for asylum with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) in 2018 alone. Since 2015, more than five million Venezuelans have fled their country. They have fled Nicolás Maduro's corrupt regime, attempting to escape a country ravaged by violence, destitution, and the widespread absence of basic food and medicine. Colombia, Peru, Chile, Ecuador, and Brazil are hosting approximately three million Venezuelan refugees and migrants, and it is important for the United States to demonstrate solidarity with the Venezuelan people and these generous host countries.
With the world confronting the COVID-19 pandemic--which has presented major challenges to public health systems everywhere--most hospitals in Venezuela lack running water, electricity and basic medical supplies. A significant number of Venezuelan medical professionals have fled the country's political and economic crisis. We fear that the coronavirus will spread unmitigated and further exacerbate the country's humanitarian crisis. As of July 2, 2020 the Maduro regime has acknowledged more than 6,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19. However, international medical experts and human rights organizations suggest that the number is certainly much higher, given the limited availability of reliable testing, limited transparency, and the persecution of medical professionals, scientists and journalists who report independent data on COVID-19 cases.
In July 2019, the House of Representatives passed H.R. 549, the Venezuela TPS Act, a bill that designates Venezuela for Temporary Protected Status (TPS), providing approximately 200,000 Venezuelan nationals with protection in the United States. However, Republican members of the Senate have repeatedly opposed meaningful action on this bill. Moreover, your Administration has the authority it needs to designate Venezuela for TPS today given that conditions in Venezuela clearly meet the requirements of the TPS statute, yet it has failed to do so.
Given the extraordinary humanitarian crisis in Venezuela, compounded by the COVID-19 epidemic, we again urge your Administration to grant TPS to eligible Venezuelans currently present in the United States. Without TPS, Venezuelans in the United States are at risk of deportation back to a country where their lives, safety, and freedom are threatened. Designating Venezuela for TPS would demonstrate our nation's commitment to supporting vulnerable Venezuelans until they can return to their country safely.
Thank you in advance for your attention to this issue. We look forward to your response