Democratic senators call on the Biden government to redesignate TPS for Venezuela and Nicaragua

Exiled Nicaraguans protest against the government of Daniel Ortega in San José, Costa Rica, on April 16, 2023.

Photo: OSE CORDERO/AFP/Getty Images

Democratic Senators Dick Durbin, Bob Menendez, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Senator Kirsten Gillibrand along with 22 of their Senate colleagues signed a letter sent to Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security National Alejandro Mayorkas requesting redesignate Venezuela and Nicaragua for Temporary Protected Status (TPS).

The senators, led by the head of the Democratic caucus Chuck Schumer, urged the Biden government to make the new TPS designation for Venezuela and Nicaragua given "the extraordinary humanitarian crises in these countries."

"A redesignation of TPS for each of these countries would extend these same benefits to people already in the United States," they said in the letter.

TPS is granted by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and offers temporary relief from removal and access to work permits for eligible foreign nationals who are unable to return safely to their home countries due to natural disasters, armed conflict, or other extraordinary and temporary conditions.

The executive branch has the authority to designate the countries whose citizens can obtain this temporary protection.

Venezuela was designated for TPS in March 2021, and the decision must be made by the secretary of Homeland Security by March 3, 2024 when the current designation expires.

For its part, Nicaragua has been on the list since January 1999. Secretary Mayorkas rescinded the termination of Nicaragua's designation and extended TPS for 18 months, from January 6, 2024 to July 5, 2025.

The senators highlighted in their letter the conditions of oppression, tyranny, and abuse that continue to be experienced in Venezuela and Nicaragua.

They also expressed it in a press release where they stated that: “The humanitarian crisis facing the Venezuelan people has only deepened in the last two years. Millions continue to be unable to access basic health care and adequate nutrition, and many are forced to reduce their food intake.

And they cited the UNHCR, which has described "the exodus of Venezuelans fleeing repression and the humanitarian emergency as the largest migration crisis in the recent history of Latin America", to reaffirm that these "unpublished circumstances unquestionably constitute the extraordinary and temporary that justify their designation of the TPS and its subsequent extension”.

Regarding Nicaragua, they pointed out that Daniel Ortega has worked to consolidate his power, transforming Nicaragua "into a police state in which the executive branch has instituted a regime of terror and the suppression of all freedoms through the control and surveillance of the citizenship and repression by state and parastatal security institutions supported by the other branches of government.”

How TPS is Granted

The government, after reviewing the conditions in each country, may extend the designation for periods of 6, 12, or 18 months at least 60 days before the TPS designation expires.

Currently there are more than 400,000 people, from 16 countries, covered by TPS. According to the pro-immigrant group Immigration Forum, they include 251,567 Salvadorans, 80,709 Hondurans, and 4,526 Nicaraguans. In addition, up to 323,000 Venezuelans could obtain that immigration protection.

Citizens of those countries who arrive after the date of the initial designation can only obtain TPS protection if the government makes a new designation for their countries.

A new TPS designation for each of these countries would extend these same benefits to people already in the United States.

The redesignations would also provide critically needed support to states and localities across the country working to welcome back by allowing TPS holders to work.

Keep reading:

– How to re-register for the TPS of El Salvador, Honduras and Nicaragua 2023-2025?
– Organizations ask Biden to expand deportation protection for immigrants
– The US government extends TPS for El Salvador, Honduras and Nicaragua

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