A recording of today’s call is available here.
Earlier today, Rep. Donna Shalala (FL-27) joined a Venezuelan who would benefit from Temporary Protected Status (TPS), as well as country condition experts to discuss the urgent and critical need to create permanent protections for Venezuelans fleeing the Maduro regime.
On the call, speakers highlighted the extreme country conditions and the ongoing humanitarian crises happening in Venezuela at the hands of the Maduro regime. Leila, a Venezuelan who would benefit from TPS, shared her own personal experience that showcases the suffering in her home country which certainly merits protections.
Rep. Donna Shalala (FL-27) said, “Since my first day in Congress, our team has been working tirelessly to help secure TPS for Venezuelans. While the House was able to pass the Venezuelan TPS Act of 2019 with significant bipartisan support, Senate Republicans have blocked it from being voted on in the Senate. The simple truth is that Venezuelans are suffering tremendously under the brutal regime of Nicolas Maduro. Venezuelans in the United States should not be forced to return to a country that is struggling to provide for even the most basic needs of its citizens. Until President Trump finally chooses to act to resolve this crisis, my colleagues in the House and I will continue to put pressure on the Senate in order to bring this life saving legislation to a vote.”
Leila Calderón, aunt of political prisoner and potential Venezuelan TPS holder said, “I live in New Jersey with my 9 year old son. We fled Venezuela in July 2016. My nephew who lived with me in Caracas was accused of plotting to overthrow Maduro and was arrested with no evidence. My nephew should not be in jail. I decided to go out to protest and make my voice heard against the jailing of innocent people and became a target myself, and fled with my husband and son. We were informed that my nephew was to be released, on the way home from the detention center, my nephew learned that members of military counterintelligence were waiting for him. He decided not to go home, the military decided to detain my sister, my nephew’s mother. A couple of days later, they arrested my nephew again. He has been tortured brutally, and remains in jail even though all his family members have been released. We keep advocating for his release, but we can’t return to my country, not only because of all the continued threats, but because of crime, food shortages and being targeted. TPS will be a great benefit not only for me, but for all Venezuelans as we try to digest the difficulties we are facing.”
Geoff Ramsey, Assistant Director for Venezuela, Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA) said, “These are people fleeing complete and utter economic collapse, on top of a deep political crisis. Countries across the hemisphere are struggling to provide a humane response to millions of fleeing Venezuelans, yet here in this country the U.S. government continues to deport these people back to danger. It’s time to end the hypocrisy. Just as the United States is engaged in a cross-border to respond to Venezuela’s political crisis, it must also do its part in showing real solidarity with Venezuelans fleeing violence, political unrest, and deep economic collapse.”
Lisa Parisio, Advocacy Attorney, Policy & Outreach, Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc. (CLINIC) said, “The president says our country stands with the Venezuelan people but the administration’s failure to protect Venezuelans here through TPS says otherwise. That failure to designate TPS for Venezuela is for the same reason the administration has terminated TPS for six out of the ten countries that held it when this administration took power. It is in furtherance of a political agenda, not based on protecting human life and certainly not based on the law. CLINIC will continue to advocate for the administration to use TPS as Congress intended and for Congress to hold the administration accountable when it fails to do so.”
Douglas Rivlin, Director of Communications for America’s Voice, said, “We all know the continued unrest, collapse and out migration from Venezuela is reported daily by Spanish language news, a little less so in English. The profound impact on the region of people leaving Venezuela really can’t be understated. We know its not a safe country to which we should be deporting people. That’s why we’re discussing TPS for those who might be subject to deportation or any of the other tools the President might use. The President and Stephen Miller are already trying to take away TPS from people who already have it. Although the House passed legislation for Venezuela TPS, it was blocked by Republicans in the Senate.”