Senate Republicans Block Bipartisan, House-Passed Venezuela TPS Legislation

WASHINGTON – Senate Republicans today blocked 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.  U.S. Senate Democratic Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL) was joined by U.S. Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, on the Senate floor to make a unanimous consent (UC) request to immediately pass the Venezuela TPS Act of 2019.  U.S. Senator Mike Lee (R-UT) objected on behalf of Senate Republicans.

“How can you say you care for the people of Venezuela, yet when it comes to those in the United States, force them to return to this circumstance?” Durbin asked.  “So today, we made this request on the floor.  A Republican Senator objected.  The next time I come to the floor, I’m going to ask our Republican cosponsors to join us.  This is a bipartisan effort to try to protect these Venezuelan people.  And if they’ll come join us, perhaps the leadership on the Republican side will have second thoughts and give these people of Venezuela a chance to be protected here until their country is safe.” 

Video of the UC request on the Senate floor is available here.

Audio of the UC request on the Senate floor is available here.

Footage of the UC request on the Senate floor is available here for TV Stations.

Earlier this month, 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).  

In March, Durbin and Menendez led 24 Senators in a bipartisan letter to President Trump requesting that his Administration promptly designate Venezuela for TPS to ensure that Venezuelan nationals currently present in the United States are not forced to return to Venezuela at this time.

In February, Durbin and Menendez, along with Senators 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. 

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