Democrats Urge U.S. Asylum for Venezuela’s Population

The Associated Press
AP Photo/Eduardo Verdugo
NEIL MUNRO

Sen. Marco Rubio and 23 Democratic Senators are asking President Donald Trump to grant asylum to Venezuelans, even though the grant would minimize the Venezuelans’ incentives to overthrow their country’s Cuban-backed dictatorship.

“We respectfully request that your Administration promptly designate Venezuela for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) to ensure that Venezuelan nationals currently present in the United States are not forced to return … [because a return] is not in the best long-term interest of the United States or our partners in the region,” said the March 7 letter.

However, offering asylum to Venezuelans would take the air out of the popular uprising against the dictatorship in the same way that Cuba’s communist dictatorship used U.S. immigration laws to deport its opponents to Florida, said David North, an expert at the Center for Immigration Studies.

“Successful revolutions are rarely pulled off by people who are not there.” North wrote.

The population of Venezuela is roughly 31 million.

The asylum letter is being pushed by top Democratic Senators, including Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Dick Durbin. Both Senators have fought bitterly to block the President’s immigration reforms, including construction of a border wall and reforms of the pro-migration asylum rules which are now encouraging a mass migration of Central Americans into the United States.

Florida GOP Sen. Rubio signed on to the letter, likely with the support of various GOP donors and business groups who stand to gain from an infusion of investments and spending by Venezuelan migrants. Rubio posted the TPS plan on his official Twitter account, but not on his personal account.

The Democrats’ TPS letter comes as Democrats try to reverse Trump’s plan to end TPS protections for many former illegal migrants from Honduras, Haiti, and El Salvador and other countries.

The TPS protections date back to 2001 and were granted to illegal migrants when their home countries were hit by earthquakes and floods. Their temporary TPS benefits — legal residency and work permits — were extended repeatedly by former Presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush, partly because the migrants are a useful source of cheap labor to business groups.

Democrats, including Schumer and Durbin, now argue that the TPS migrants should not have to go home, and should be allowed to get green cards under legislation that provides green cards to the ‘DACA’ illegal migrants.

Schumer and Durbin also deny any long term impact from extending TPS to Venezualans. Their letter claims:

The decision to deny, withdraw or terminate TPS is in the sole discretion of the U.S. government. Moreover, TPS does not make a beneficiary eligible for legal permanent resident status or U.S. citizenship. When the TPS designation of a country is terminated, beneficiaries revert to the same immigration status they maintained before the designation.

 

Democrats suggest that only 72,000 Venezuelans are candidates for TPS.

But the TPS proposal has been promoted for months, ensuring that many wealthier Venezuelans have been able to fly into Florida on routine tourist visas, and then overstay their term in the hope of getting TPS.

Media reports say more than 2 million Venezuelans have fled the country, and that perhaps 200,000 Venezuelans are already living in Florida, with minimal chance of being sent home.

A TPS designation could trigger a mass migration from Venezuela into Florida, so wrecking Trump’s campaign promise to guard the borders. The promise is already under growing pressure, as U.S. officials predict that 900,000 Central American migrants may use government-created legal loopholes to walk into the United States in 2019.

A declaration could also trigger a mass migration from other Latin American states. In January, Gallup reported:

Forty-two million seekers of citizenship or asylum are watching to determine exactly when and how is the best time to make the move. This suggests that open borders could potentially attract 42 million Latin Americans. A full 5 million who are planning to move in the next 12 months say they are moving to the U.S.

Any TPS designation for the Venezuelans would help the Democrats in Congress and progressive lawyers in court fight Trump’s removal of TPS from the Hondurans, Haitians, and El Salvadoran migrants.

Legislators in the House and Senate have introduced bills that would give TPS status to Venezuelans. The Center for Immigration Studies reported:

Two bills, one each in the House and Senate, have been introduced that would legislatively mandate a grant of Temporary Protected Status (TPS) to Venezuelans. They are, respectively, H.R. 549, introduced by Rep. Darren Soto (D-Fla.), and S. 636, introduced by Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) …

Meanwhile Maduro remains defiant of the international community, outside of a few close allies such as Cuba and Russia, and more recently Iran, and refuses to allow aid from the United States and other donors to enter the country from Colombia and Brazil, where tons of food and humanitarian supplies sit waiting for the OK.

Granting TPS would only add to the already out-of-control situation when Venezuelans to decide to join the tens of thousands of Central Americans already headed north [to the U.S. border]. What’s more, it might encourage others in the region, such as Nicaraguans (whose own country teeters on economic and social instability — see here and here) to do likewise in hopes that their physical presence would encourage a similar grant of TPS.

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