Durbin Calls On The Administration To Grant Tps To Recent Venezuelan Migrants

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL) spoke on the Senate floor urging the Biden Administration to grant Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for recent Venezuelans fleeing dire conditions in their home country.  Last month, Durbin met with opposition leader and former interim President of Venezuela Juan Guaidó, who recently fled Venezuela for his and his young family’s safety.  Durbin noted the extreme conditions that Venezuelans, including those he recently met in Chicago, are fleeing as important criteria for expanding TPS eligibility for Venezuelans beyond those who arrived in 2021. 

“After a heroic and determined effort to bring some semblance of democracy and stability to the once proud nation of Venezuela, he [Guaidó] and his young family fled in fear for their safety and future.  He showed me harrowing photos of his wife and two young daughters fleeing secretly and across a dangerous river into Colombia—a story that sadly isn’t unique or even the worst I’ve heard.  Under the Maduro regime, Venezuela is a politically repressive failed state.  I visited with this President just before the discredited 2018 election and what I saw—and what continues today—was heartbreaking.  There are people starving and fainting at work from malnutrition, hospitals without power and basic medicines, brutal political repression and torture, and staggering corruption and dismantling of the country’s democracy,” said Durbin. 

Venezuela’s protracted humanitarian and political crises continue to drive migration, with millions of people fleeing in desperation.  As a result, Venezuela is facing the second largest external displacement crisis in the world.  The population that remains in Venezuela faces violence, insecurity, and increased risk of exploitation.

Just yesterday, Durbin spoke with a number of Venezuelans at the Piotrowski Park Shelter in Chicago—where approximately 200 migrants are provided temporary housing.  During his speech, Durbin highlighted one woman’s story—who traveled through miles of Panamanian jungle with her three young children—in search of a better life.  Durbin thanked the Greater Chicago Food Depository and the New Life Church for its leadership in helping this woman’s desperate family and so many other migrants arriving in Chicago.

Durbin has repeatedly called for TPS for Venezuelans in the United States, including introduction of the Venezuela Temporary Protected Status Act, to grant TPS for eligible Venezuelans and strengthen migration systems in countries surrounding Venezuelaa move eventually granted by the Biden Administration in early 2021.  Durbin traveled to Venezuela in April 2018, during which time he met with then National Assembly Member Guaidó as well as Nicolás Maduro, warning him that pursuing a sham election the following month would further isolate his autocratic regime. 

“TPS is a temporary immigration status provided to foreign nationals if returning to their country would pose a serious threat to their safety because of ongoing armed conflict, an environmental disaster, or other extraordinary conditions,” Durbin said.  “It’s the kind of common sense move self-confident nations and leaders take to demonstrate global leadership and compassion—one I was glad President Biden made early in his presidency.”  

Durbin concluded, “This original designation covered Venezuelans who had arrived in the United States by March 2021.  Today, I am calling on the Administration to make a similar designation for more recent Venezuelan arrivals.  The Venezuelans I have met in Chicago will tell you that conditions have only worsened since 2021.  A new designation would not provide permanent immigration status—but instead, a measure of American decency and solidarity with those who would face violence and chaos if forced to return to Venezuela.”

Video of Durbin’s remarks on the floor is available here. 

Audio of Durbin’s remarks on the floor is available here.

Footage of Durbin’s remarks on the floor is available here for TV Stations.