H.R.549 - Venezuela TPS Act of 2019

Photo of Congress member Representative Darren Soto

To designate Venezuela under section 244 of the Immigration and Nationality Act to permit nationals of Venezuela to be eligible for temporary protected status under such section, and for other purposes.

You might favor this bill if:
►  You believe that Venezuelans living in the U.S. who have fled the country's repressive government should be allowed an extension of the Temporary Protected Status, or TPS. This would give Venezuelans a legal status in the U.S. and grant them work permits.

You might oppose this bill if:
►  You believe that Venezuelans should not receive an extension of TPS benefits. Venezuelans can already apply to the asylum program.
Introduced House Senate President Law

The Venezuela TPS Act would extend Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Venezuelans fleeing Maduro's authoritarian rule, allowing Venezuelans living in the U.S. who have fled the country's repressive government and collapsing economy to qualify for TPS protections and work permits.

The Trump administration has sought to terminate Temporary Protected Status (TPS) programs for immigrants, though its efforts have been hampered by court rulings. Reps. Soto and Diaz-Balart believe that President Trump could possibly approve this bill despite his efforts to terminate the protection for individuals from other countries.

"If there is a country that might get TPS approved by the White House, it would be Venezuela," Rep. Darren Soto (D-FL), one of the sponsors of the legislation. "Because this would enhance the sanctions that the White House has already put forward."

"This is not a traditional immigration bill," said Rep. Díaz-Balart (R-FL), sponsor of the legislation. "This is the recognition of specific circumstances that the administration has recognized."

The Trump administration has imposed several economic sanctions on Maduro's government and companies with ties to the Venezuelan leftist leader, who has consolidated power by stacking the judiciary with his allies, overhauling the legislative branch and maintaining a tight grip on the military. Mr. Trump included Venezuelan government officials in the third version of his travel ban, which the Supreme Court upheld last summer. In addition to purportedly discussing a military coup with dissidents, the White House has recognized the chief opposition leader in the country, National Assembly President Juan Guaido, as Venezuela's legitimate head-of-state.

According to Rep. Diaz-Balart, granting TPS protections to Venezuelans fleeing Maduro's authoritarian rule would put more pressure on his regime and further isolate the South American leader, who a dozen Latin American foreign ministers said should hand over power.

"You're talking about a dictator who has not only stolen, in essence, the wealth of the country for personal gain and to use it for nefarious purposes around the world, but has also used the country's wealth to frankly repress and to murder its own people," said Rep. Díaz-Balart added.

Oil-rich Venezuela was once considered one of Latin America's wealthiest nations. But under Maduro — who replaced Hugo Chavez, another leader accused of authoritarian tendencies, in 2013 — economic turmoil, skyrocketing inflation, food shortages, mounting crime and government corruption have plunged the country deep into a socio-political crisis.

To stifle discontent over the floundering economy, weakened further by international sanctions and plummeting oil production, Maduro has resorted to political oppression and, allegedly, even torture. Recent elections in the country have been denounced by United States and the international community as unfair and rigged.

The dire situation has prompted more than 2.3 million Venezuelans to flee the country since 2014 — an exodus Human Rights Watch called "the largest migration crisis of its kind in recent Latin American history." More than one million Venezuelans have fled to neighboring Colombia, hundreds of thousands to Peru, Ecuador and other countries in the region — and more than 72,000 have come to the U.S.

Rep. Díaz-Balart said it is "the largest refugee crisis in the history of this hemisphere."

The legislation from Reps. Diaz-Balart and Soto would make Venezuelans eligible for TPS if they came to the U.S. after early 2013 and have no legal status. A window for new applications would be open for 18 months from the day the bill is signed into law.


Sponsored by: Rep. Soto, Darren [D-FL-9].

Cosponsored by: 2 Rep / 19 Dem.

See list of cosponsors.

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