Representatives Darren Soto (D-Florida) and Mario Diaz-Balart (R-Florida) introduced the Venezuela TPS Act of 2019, or H.R.549, on January 15, 2019. The bill would designate Venezuela for temporary protected status (TPS), allowing certain Venezuelan nationals to stay in the U.S., regardless of their current immigration status. The Secretary of Homeland Security grants TPS to certain individuals who cannot safely return to their home countries due to ongoing armed conflict, environmental disasters, or other extraordinary circumstances.
The bill is almost identical to S. 636, introduced by Senators Robert Menendez (D-New Jersey), Marco Rubio (R-Florida), Richard Durbin (D-Illinois), Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont) and Cory Booker (D-NJ) on February 28, 2019.
The Venezuela TPS Act of 2019 would:
- Designate Venezuela for TPS, allowing its nationals to remain in the U.S. for 18 months, regardless of their immigration status if they:
- Provide Venezuelan nationals who meet the above requirements with:
- Employment authorization; and
- Authorization to travel outside the U.S. for emergencies and extenuating circumstances.
Congress should designate Venezuela for TPS because:
- The country has been facing unprecedented economic, humanitarian, security, and refugee crisis, consisting of extreme food and medicine shortages, severe infant and child malnutrition, rampant crime, and government-sponsored repression.
- Venezuela ranks as the most dangerous country in the world.
- TPS holders contribute to the U.S. economy. For example, TPS holders from El Salvador, Honduras, and Haiti contribute $4.5 billion in income to the gross domestic product annually and $6.9 billion to Social Security and Medicare over a decade.