Durbin Meets With Top Venezuelan Diplomat & Foreign Minister For Guiadó Government

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senate Democratic Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL) today met with Carlos Vecchio, the top Venezuelan diplomat to the United States under interim President Juan Guaidó’s government, and Julio Borges, President Guido’s foreign minister.  In today’s meeting, Durbin offered his continued support for President Guaidó and discussed plans for a managed transition and a timely, open, and fair election. 

“In today’s meeting, I reiterated to Minister Borges and Chargé d’Affaires Vecchio that we in the United States stand ready to help the Venezuelan people rebuild their country’s democracy and economy, and to help the millions of Venezuelan refugees safely return home,” Durbin said.  “I also made clear that I will continue pushing the Trump Administration to immediately grant TPS for Venezuelan nationals in the United States – an action President Trump could take immediately to help Venezuelans, but he refuses to do so.”

Photos of today’s meeting are available here.

Earlier this week, Durbin called on Senate Republicans to support the bipartisan, House-passed legislation that would designate Venezuela for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) and protect approximately 200,000 Venezuelan nationals in the United States from deportation. 

Durbin and Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ) have repeatedly made unanimous consent (UC) requests to immediately pass the Venezuela TPS Act of 2019 on the Senate floor, but Senate Republicans have blocked every request.  This bipartisan bill passed the House more than three months ago by a vote of 272-158.  This legislation is only needed because the President, who could immediately grant TPS to Venezuelans without Congressional action, refuses to do so.

In February, Durbin, along with Senators Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Marco Rubio (R-FL), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), and Cory Booker (D-NJ) introduced the Venezuela Temporary Protected Status Act of 2019, a bill to immediately grant TPS for eligible Venezuelans fleeing the dire conditions in their home country and to strengthen migration systems in the countries surrounding Venezuela. 

In April, Durbin joined Menendez in introducing the Venezuela Emergency Relief, Democracy Assistance, and Development Act (VERDAD ACT) of 2019.  The legislation significantly increases U.S. humanitarian assistance, expands current tools to address kleptocracy, formally recognizes and supports the Interim President of Venezuela’s efforts to restore democracy and prosperity in the country, and accelerates planning with international financial institutions to advance the country’s post-Maduro reconstruction.

In July, in a letter from controversial Acting U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Director Ken Cuccinelli, responding to a bipartisan request led by Durbin and Menendez, the Trump Administration stated that it will not designate Venezuela for Temporary Protected Status (TPS).  

Last year, Durbin traveled to Venezuela where he met with then-President Nicolas Maduro, members of the opposition including Juan Guaidó, the President of the National Assembly, the Ministers of Health and Nutrition, business leaders, civil society groups, doctors, and humanitarian organizations.